Anne-Marie McDonald and Philip Quast. Pic Kate Williams

This show was a cabaret at the Adelaide cabaret festival in 2019 called ‘Uncut’. It has been revised and renamed for this year’s Sydney Festival. The new title refers to one of the main songs in the show ‘Candide’ which saw Quast’s Sydney stage debut at the Seymour Centre some forty years ago . As philosophical, even existential, as the title sounds, this does not prove to be the nature of the show.

Anne-Maree McDonald comes on stage first and takes her seat at the piano. Philip Quast then joins her, coming on stage supported by a cane. This comes as a bit of a shock. He soon explains that he has hip problems and is shortly to have an  operation. It was good to see that as he relaxed and immersed himself in the show his need for the cane disappeared.There was a bar stool and an armchair on stage for him to use.

Quast told us that he has retired from mainstream music theatre, leaving on a high note playing Benjamin Stone in the National Theatre’s revival of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Follies’ on the West End. British theatre legend Peter Brook asked to see him after the opening night performance and told him that it was the best show that he had seen on the West End in twenty years!

There were many musical highlights including ‘The Road I Didn’t Take’ from ‘Follies’,’Stars’ from Les Mis, ‘The Gypsy River’, ‘The King’s New Clothes’, ‘I Like Old People’ and the poignant ballad ‘In My Father’s Hands’ that he dedicated to his father who he had only recently lost.

There were a host of stories, memories spanning his life. Riding a tractor on the family farm and  belting out songs to his heart’s content as there was no-one around..The times he spent chatting with legendary composer Stephen Sondheim as he performed in many of his productions…Performing in the Jerry Herman show ‘La Cage aux Folles’ on the West End with Sir Ian McKellen and friends in the audience..Meeting Prince Charles and chatting with him as if he was just an ordinary bloke and afterwards being rebuked that this was no way to treat the future King of England!..The time when he was rehearsing Samuel Beckett’s play ‘Waiting For Godot’ with Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh and they all broke down crying at the beauty of Beckett’s words.

The show advised of only two performers so everyone was shocked when another performer came on stage and belted out a number with Quast. He was none other than David Campbell who made a brief guest appearance in appreciation of his friend. The audience was delighted and gave him warm applause.

‘Is That All Then’ changed to a much lighter tone when Quast put his ‘Playschool’ hat on. Quast, together with Noni Hazelhurst, were the hosts of the ABC’s ‘Playschool’ for 17 years. Quast led the audience in a playful rendition of the hit kids song ‘The Wiggerly Woo Song’. The audience loved it.

Through the seventy minute performance Quast’s pure, warm baritone didn’t falter and was beautifully accompanied by McDonald’s sensitive piano playing. 

The show came to a close with Quast receiving a standing ovation.After a few encores we saw Quast and McDonald take each other’s hand and gently leave the stage. 

A warm, engaging night of theatre, Philip Quast ‘Is That All Then’ played for two performances only, the matinee and evening performance  on Sunday 17th January, 2021 at the York Theatre, Seymour Centre.