Review: How to Rule the World
Written by Nakkiah Lui
Starring Gareth Davies, Vanessa Downing, Michelle Lim Davidson, Nakkiah Lui, Hamish Michael, Rhys Muldoon, and Anthony Taufa
Directed by Paige Rattray
When three people find themselves unable to get preselected and up against the powers that be, they decide the best way to stop a terrible immigration bill is to hire a white male actor and mould him into the perfect candidate. Along the way, however, the group find themselves corrupted by the power that they now possess.
This is the premise of How to Rule the World, a hilarious play that works on a surprising number of levels.
Things escalate and get out of control ridiculously quickly.
One of the first things that hits you watching How to Rule the World is just how playwright Nakkiah Lui manages to keep everything up to date. From jokes about poo joggers to the recent Al Jazeera piece about One Nation, the show has clearly refreshed its script in recent times.
How to Rule the World is not content to skewer the stale pale males it lampoons. Lui goes much further in targeting her own black politics, the contradictory instincts of the left, and along the way has thoughtful things to say about identity politics and how power can truly be shared. This is truly satire that cuts both ways and it has something that everyone will take something away from.
All of the actors responsible manage to deliver their parts well. Nakkia Lui, Anthony Taufa, and Michelle Lim Davidson comrpise the core three characters, their comic timing and delivery playing off one another perfectly. Rhys Muldoon has a particularly standout performance as the Australian Prime Minister.
For as sharp as it is, How to Rule the World is not perfect. For one thing, its treatment of religion feels tacked on and not as sharply realised as the rest of the satire. It should also be noted that this is the kind of farce which aims to slightly provoke the audience, and that the show comes with a disclaimer outside the theatre with a content warning.
How to Rule the World is now playing at the Sydney Opera House’s Drama Theatre. Tickets are available here.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor