Smash comedy a frank conversation with Paul Keating

FULL of intelligence and wit, The Gospel According to Paul is a funny, insightful and occasionally poignant portrait of Paul Keating, the man that – as he tells it – single-handedly shaped contemporary Australia.

Paul Keating served as the 24th Prime Minister of Australia and the Leader of the Labor Party from 1991 to 1996.

Actor Jonathan Biggins is Paul Keating in the smash hit comedy, a 90-minute play with the thespian alone on stage.

“I’ve been playing Paul Keating for many years now – when he saw me appearing as him in the Wharf Revue, his first comment was: ‘I’d have been wearing a better suit’,” he said. “Sadly, we didn’t have the budget for an Ermenegildo Zegna then, and to be perfectly honest we still don’t, but this is the first time I’ve attempted to explore one of Australia’s most enduring political figures in something more complex than the sketch or short monologue format,” Mr Biggins said.

The actor said Keating was a great character to write for and perform.

“He was funny, sharp, emotional and flamboyant,” he said.

“The bovver-boy from Bankstown who was as comfortable writing an essay on neoclassicism and the architecture of Berlin as he was staring down the Head of Treasury to float the dollar.

“I’m here to remind you what political leadership looks like, because the last 15 years in Australia have been a revolving door of inadequacy.

“No government has tackled as much difficult reform as the Hawke-Keating ministries and while some of the long-term results have unsettled many, they certainly changed Australia’s perception of itself and where it might find a place and a role in the world.

“I hope we shed the occasional light on the contradictions and complexities of a great leader whose vision, courage and determination are sadly missing in what passes for our contemporary political class.”

Asked about what the most surprising side of Mr Keating was while researching for the play, Mr Biggins was very clear in his answer:

“Some aspects of his childhood, the fact that he had a pilot’s licence and a bus driver’s licence; he was also an autodidact, he left school before he turned 15, never went to university and was completely self taught,” he said.

  • At Lismore City Hall on Thursday and Friday, February 27 and 28, 7.30pm. Recommended for ages 15+. Coarse Language. Visit norpa.org.au or call 1300 066 772.

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