Terry Serio and Abe Mitchell.



A Riff on Keef: The Human Myth, by Benito Di Fonzo | Directed by Lucinda Gleeson

Griffin Independent (http://www.griffintheatre.com.au) & Ocelot Productions | SBW Stables Theatre, Darlinghust, Sydney | Until 12 December

I’ll start by laying the cards firmly on the table. I’m an unashamed Rolling Stones fan. Also, despite vocalist Jagger’s powerful sexuality, enormous stage presence and unbelievable athleticism, I reckon it’s undoubtedly guitarist Keith Richards who is the main driving forced behind the longest-living and most successful rock band the world has ever seen. And don’t you dare argue with me!

Griffin Independent’s world premiere of A Riff on Keef would only need have been half good to have me stamping in the aisles. But believe me it was sensationally good, as I knew it would be as soon as I saw some of the credit lines.

I’d previously seen writer Benito Di Fonzo’s The Chronic Ills of Robert Zimmerman, AKA Bob Dylan (A Lie) at the Old Fitz in Woolloomooloo and had loved his quirky, incisive style. Director Lucinda Gleeson had been beside him in that venture, too.

As for Terry Serio, who plays Keef, he starred in the title role in the huge TV series Shout! The Story of Johnny O’Keefe. He also played both Bob Hawke and Johnny Howard in the stage production of Keating the Musical, one of the funniest performances I have ever seen.

This time Serio is joined onstage by Branden Christine, Abe Mitchell, Lenore Howard and Dorje Swallow, who each play a multiplicity of roles — among them Anita Palenberg, Howling Wolf, Marianne Faithfull, Nick Cave, Chuck Berry, and, of course Mick Jagger and the other Stones. Not to mention to mention a good chunk of British legal system and the establishment.

Jagger at various stages is played by both Mitchell and Swallow. The former’s preening and prancing is particularly evocative — an absolutely spectacular caricature of the man who would be God, or at least thoroughly deserving of his knighthood.

I know enough about the story of the Stones to know that some of the tale that Di Fonzo spins is factual, while other bits seem totally fanciful, but then who knows? We are dealing here with the most outrageous member of possibly the most outrageous group of people to have ever taken to the stage. We are dealing with someone who snorted his father’s ashes, or at least so the story goes.

Serio is perfect as Keef and can obviously play a pretty mean rock guitar, and the others handle the musical side of production very ably indeed, delivering a thoroughly delightful and stimulating aural and visual experience.

There are only a few nights left to catch the show. Do so.

Thumbs up.

Branden Christine.

Dorje Swallow.

Lenore Munro and Terry Serio.