Dimboola is an Australian comedy set in the 1970s and written by Jack Hibberd. With a loose plot, the show unravels the night of a country wedding reception and the many feuds that develop between the two families ranging from insults to physical violence.
Reminding me of the type of show you would see in the working clubs of yesteryear, Groovy Boots Theatre founders and directors Phil Barnett and Chris Thomas cleverly chose the Victoria Park Bowling Club as the location of the performance.
The audience was seated as if they were themselves guests at the wedding and were treated to a three-course meal as the night progressed. The set was decorated just as you would expect a cheap country wedding to appear, with tacky streamers and a few scattered balloons behind the head table.
The actors, guests and relatives at the wedding mingled with the audience as they arrived, chatting to them cordially, so that you are immediately immersed in the experience. Some of the audience members went so far as to dress up in wedding style attire.
As the show started in earnest the audience received their soup and bread rolls and without so much as a warm-up the play immediately dived into crude language and sexual innuendo, gradually getting worse as the show progressed.
Struggling to eat my soup while leaning around other audience members for a view, catching all of the quick one-liners was very tricky. It did not help that the actors seemed to start at fever-pitch rather than build up to a level of drunkenness. At times the furore was almost overwhelming so I was relieved when half time was called and main meal could be enjoyed with some semblance of order.
Into Act 2 and there was no let up in the crude language and ‘in your face’ loud, brash humour that pummelled the audience. Glancing around, there was no denying that reactions were mixed. Some laughed and played along with the actors enjoying the silliness of it all, others looked shocked and appalled, a few even left their seats and did not return.
Credit must be given to the actors who maintained their ridiculous characters throughout the evening and certainly there were no slip-ups, although given the nature of the show it would be hard to tell if there were. Anything could happen in this show! My favourite performer was Ben Anderson playing Father O’Shea. He totally nailed the part of the drunk parish priest and had me in stitches falling asleep on the microphone mid-way through his wedding speech.
I thought the meal that was served represented good value for money and the soup, roast and chocolate pudding was perfect for a cheap country wedding. There were some hiccups with service, some of the audience had a very long wait for their main meal which resulting in them clapping when it finally arrived. Obviously trying to make up for the delay – the caterers served dessert in reverse order so that those that had received their meal late, received it quickly, but those served last had a long wait between main and desert.
The most ironic moment of the night was when we spotted the signs in the bowling club bar saying obscene language was not permitted. Perhaps the directors failed to show the script to club management before they agreed to host the production?
I can certainly see a potential for this show to tour and be performed at other clubs and sporting venues. In fact the publicist was approached on the night about the possibility of Dimboola showing at a local tennis club.
If you don’t mind a bit of low-brow conversation and crude Aussie humour then you might get a kick out of this show – if not, stay away.
Groovy Boots Theatre presents
by Jack Hibberd
Directed by Phil Barnett & Chris Thomas
Venue: Victoria Park Bowling Club | 18 Kent St, Victoria Park
Dates: October 8, 9, 13, 15, 16, 20, 22, 23, 2010
Time: 8pm | doors + bar open 7pm | meals served as the show commences
All Tickets: $38.50 (includes 3 course meal)
Bookings: TAZ TIX 9255 3366