REVIEW: How To Rule The World
How To Rule The World
Reviewed by Nicole Pingon
From Parliament House to cocaine, dodge balls to dance sequences; Nakkiah Lui’s new political comedy, How to Rule the World, presents us with a melting pot of skit-like comedy, direct address and musical elements, creating a colourful picture of Australia’s political climate today.
Political, satirical, and packed with big ideas, the show presents itself as a degustation, featuring a delicious taste of intersectionality, race, media sensationalism and the radical steps people are willing to take to have their opinions voiced. After all, what is democracy if the only way to be heard is literally through the mouth of a white man?
Vic, Zaza and and Chris (Nakkiah Lui, Michelle Lim Davidson and Anthony Taufa), together plot, create and puppeteer the perfect white man, Tommy Ryan (Hamish Michael), in an attempt to take over the Australian political system, through rhetoric and manipulation.
Absurd, but not entirely unbelievable.
Supported by Rhys Muldoon’s embodiment of the Prime Minister, Gareth Davies’ hilarious plethora of white men, and Vanessa Downing in various roles, a full spectrum of political perspectives emerge over the duration of the show.
Together the cast create a dynamic ensemble, whilst also shining in their individual moments of direct address, particularly Lui, when earnestly speaking to the importance of treaty in Australia.
While driven by commentary on the current political structure in Australia; almost exclusively run by rich, older, white men, Lui equally shines a light on the hypocrisy and infighting that exists amongst the left. We witness the downfalls of the power trio, as tough decisions and power begin to get the better of them.
How can they change everything, if they can’t agree on anything?
Marg Howell’s set design was simple, transforming the Sydney Opera House’s Drama Theatre into a dreary interpretation of Canberra’s Parliament House. While the set remained stark and unchanging, Emma Valente’s lighting and AV design cleverly aided the space in its speedy and chameleon-like transformations, travelling through past, present and various locations in the beloved Canberra.
Lui’s writing intertwines witty comedy, current cultural references and hard-hitting truth, highlighting the importance of Indigenous Rights in Australia.
Each moment gained a distinct response from the varied demographics present in the space; the name ‘Tomothy’ gained some of the biggest laughs of the night. Meanwhile, the few of us younger audience members were absolutely living for the rendition of Rihanna’s Umbrella during a funeral scene, and Oprah’s face dancing across the AV screens.
At times, the play’s shifts in ideas and form felt sporadic; some moments felt like they could have been tightened or fleshed out. Perhaps it was intended as a reflection of the very nature of politics today: reactive, short-lived and sensationalist. Many moments in the show were fleeting, ultimately leaving you craving just a bit more.
How to Rule the World was undeniably living and breathing in the present moment. It forces us to take a good look at the absurdities of our current political system we call a democracy.
While I wasn’t always entirely sure of what the show was trying to say, I was wildly entertained, and left the theatre with a massive urge to read, and be more aware of the politics happening around me.
And for those of us freshly of the golden age: have you enrolled to vote?