Julia Gillard and Julie Bishop had to put up with a lot of crap during their time in politics. Facing a daily barrage of sexism and personal attacks, it would be enough to send someone over the edge. Written and performed by Patrick Livesey and Esther Myles, Gone Girls is an explosive queer retelling of what happens when these two powerful figures are pushed to their limits in a dark political comedy of what was and what could have been.
Livesey and Myles have clearly done their homework on these women. Their impersonations are very authentic while also knowing what parts of their personalities and mannerisms to heighten. Livesey has an absolute ball as the power suited wearing Gillard, particularly in his physicality and speech patterns. Myles, with the slightly more challenging task of becoming the stern-faced and pragmatic Bishop, brilliantly finds the subtleties of the woman who kept her mouth shut in an attempt to realise her dream of being leader of this country.
While the individual performances are great, the two need to ensure they are on equal footing and not outshining each other when sharing scenes. Being in drag allows Livesey to play Gillard in a more exaggerated way than Myles is afforded with Bishop. There are scenes together where the energy between the two political leaders feels unbalanced, including their Question Time lip-syncing "battle", but it is executed in a way that you can easily overlook this.
Once Bishop loses her chance of becoming Prime Minster, she joins forces with Gillard and they decide to blow up Parliament and stick it to the man. Even with such an absurdly entertaining plot, the writing remains an intelligent and scathing look at Australian politics. One scene includes the vicious slurs hurled at Gillard, and even though it may be fair to say that politicians should expect to be held under scrutiny, this is a reminder that most of the criticisms that Gillard received were very much gender-focused.
There are clever observations about Australia and Australian politics made in Gone Girls. Gillard and Bishop opened the way for more women to vie for leading political positions, but with the constant criticism they faced based on their gender by the media and fellow politicians, Gone Girls leaves us wondering why would they want to?
Click here for my interview with Patrick Livesey and Esther Myles.
Venue: Trades Hall, Cnr Lygon & Victoria Sts, Carlton.
Season: until 29 September | Tues - Sat 8:30pm, Sun 7:30pm
Length: 50 minutes
Tickets: $25 Full | $22 Conc and Group 6+ | $20 Cheap Tuesday
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival
Image Credits: Jack Dixon-Gunn