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Extraordinary AusPol - Bogan Shakespeare

Reviewed by Jordan D'Arcy and Kate O'Sullivan


Extraordinary Auspol is the brainchild of David Cox of Auspol Explained and Dean Lovatt of

Bogan Shakespeare Productions. This 70-minute production at the Blue Room is a delicate balance of comedic and educational, with some sobering moments peppered in for good measure.

The show itself falls somewhere between a series of scenes depicting certain parts of Australian political history (do you have a well-rounded understanding of Australian history if you haven’t heard of the Great Emu War?) and a tongue-in-cheek news or quiz show that allows the performers to quickfire Aussie political fact at the audience. It is always difficult to develop educational content aimed at adults without coming across as condescending, but in true Auspol Explained fashion there was not once during the performance that the audience felt condescended to, but rather drawn into the events that happened across history.

David Cox did a commendable job of anchoring the production, providing context for

Georgia McGivern and Tate Bennett’s reenactments of real past Australian political events. The interplay between the three performers is solid throughout this show, with good moments of fourth-wall breaking and meta-commentary. Tate’s high energy kept the pace moving, while Georgia added some lovely quieter moments to the stories that featured the women lost to history. There was occasionally a lack of gelling between the energies of the performers, but this will likely remedy itself throughout the run. Additionally, there were a couple of instances where David was difficult to hear, especially over the occasional underscoring and sound effects. From a sound design perspective, it may have been beneficial to have given him a microphone to just ensure the audience doesn’t lose the information and stories being told, especially in contrast to the other performers.

The set is simple but effective given how many different locations there are throughout the show. There are some small lighting issues, especially when the cast was performing atop tables, as well as at the podium at times, but this may be down to the venue’s limitations, and some of the special effects lighting certainly adds to some of the comedic and emotive moments throughout the show.

The production was not in chronological order of events, which was clearly outlined early on but did occasionally do the pacing a disservice. This was particularly notable around the story of May Holman. The sobering nature of her story was well presented and affecting, but it felt like the end of the production, despite there being 30 minutes left, which meant the transition into the high-energy story of the origins of the Australian Federal Police felt tacked on to the end of the show. We also hope that Tate Bennett is not too battered as a result of the audience participation – not many actors would be prepared to have an egg cracked onto their head for a show (and we still don’t know where David got all those eggs). A slight rearrangement of these scenes would add weight to future versions of this show, which will only add to its effective messaging.

A good one for those with a passing interest in Australian politics and hidden history. And given the audience reaction on the night we attended, definitely one that will entertain a wide variety of demographics. One to get down to if you can.

David Cox, Georgia McGivern and Tate Bennett. Image Credit: Dean Lovatt

Reviewer Note: Kate has worked with both Georgia and Tate in previous productions. Tickets for this review were provided by the theatre company.


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