Most people know accomplished stand-up comedian Damien Callinan as a frequently seen guest on tv shows like Skithouse and Spicks and Specks.
I fervently hope that the title and content of his one man show does not deter audience members. What could possibly be funny about World War 1? Amazingly there is plenty to laugh about. This is a brilliantly written and wonderfully performed show from Callinan.
After a clever introduction on the set of a war time movie he progresses to the op-shop discovery of the diary. As he narrates parts of the days and years of war service Callinan assumes the persona of the diarist and the characters of the army mates in his “push”.
There’s been a lot of attention given to World War 1 with the Anzac Gallipoli 100 year anniversary this year. This work is the best tribute to those events I have seen. The Australian larrikin sense of humour and deadpan comedy is so real and familiar.
The story follows the progress of the country boy volunteer through departure by sea, action in the Turkish battlefield, repatriation to a London hospital for the wounded, service in France and finally his return to home.
Obviously there are moments of pathos as well as the hilarious characterisations of the scurrilous crew. Callinan reveals fine acting skills as well as the peerless comic timing for which he is known.
Dressed in simple period army attire with a couple of khaki draped seats he worked the tented theatre impeccably, even cajoling some audience members to become whales during the long sea voyages. They loved it. The audience adored it.
Spontaneous applause broke out at minor triumphs and particularly droll conversations between the men. There was the crack shooting best mate since childhood, a Scottish union organizer, an opportunistic light fingered rogue, a garrulous cloud watcher, officer types and even a ”poofter” in the corps.
I can’t imagine a more accurate portrayal of the Aussie digger’s ability to adopt a laconic manner and laugh at the toughest of times.
This show is a highlight in an excellent array of world class shows at the 2015 Fringe World.
Five stars plus.
Don’t miss it!
The Lost World War 1 Diary
Venue: The Gold Digger
Dates: 3 – 11 February 2015