When Jonathon Biggins takes to the stage as Paul Keating, the audience is instantly drawn to his likeness, his swagger, and his schtick.
Five minutes in and we wonder, while laughing, whether this barrage of comedic quips means this show will be all tip and no iceberg.
It’s not. Instead, Biggins does us slowly as he becomes Keating and draws us into an intimate evening audience with the former PM at home in his study-cum-living room.
This show is sheer perfection and, because it’s scripted, it’s glorious.
Biggins, who wrote and who stars in this show, has distilled the essence of Keating with its rough-diamond mix of ego, humility, drive, vision, and humour.
On a set adorned with artwork and fine accoutrements, a story unfolds of a man whose ambition is supported and aided by a curiosity that needs to know how things work so that outcomes can be maximised.
With the aid of an old-style slideshow, Biggins’ Keating treats us to a telling of the story of the man, the Labor Party, and Australian politics, with perfectly modulated pace seasoned with searing (and sometimes poignant) insights.
This show not only entertains with guffaw-producing observations and barbs, but it fuels anger and dissatisfaction with the uninspiring swill who have passed the baton of political leadership in this country for the past two decades, both here and in other Western democracies.
As one of Keating’s mentors told him early one, there are no degrees in power; you have to apply yourself to learning the ways of the machine.
And it would seem that Keating did take that lesson to heart and, as a result, held sway as our Treasurer and then our 24th Prime Minister through most of the 80s and 90s.
The Gospel According To Paul is a great testament to one of our most influential political leaders as well as being a ripper of a night out.