Having seen Callinan's previous shows The Merger and The Lost WW 1 Diary, which to be correct, were really short, one man plays rather than a stand-up comedy act, I wondered how he could stretch a dance craze into a show. My fears were unfounded. Swing Man is a high energy, whip-smart production featuring not only Callinan but also nifty dancer Genevieve Wallis.
Callinan, renowned character and stand-up comedian, suffers from OTTDS (Over The Top Dance Syndrome). After years of eschewing partner dancing and cutting up dancefloors on his own, he discovers that the only cure is to learn how to Swing Dance.
Swing Man sends Callinan on a journey back to the incidents in his adolescence that set him on his path – a fracas at a Bush Dance, unrequited love at Ballroom Dancing, and the revelation that as a 17 year old he was abducted by Swing-era obsessed aliens who set him an ultimatum to learn how to Swing Dance by the time he is 51.
Callinan is a writer of razor sharp dialogue. He zoomed in on a Roman Catholic, country upbringing with references which had the audience nodding appreciatively as well as bursting into bouts of applause and hoots of laughter. Seeking psychiatric advice as to his condition Callinan was advised to “Avoid 80’s music at all costs!”
He is an excellent mover and a consummate mime. The 80’s soundtracks were obviously evocative of a prime period in Callinan’s life (his early 20’s) which also resonated with a lot of the audience. The bouncy pop rock numbers had the audience clapping along. Together we visited the dedicated Swing site, peopled by corny country celebs Hank and Misty to learn some basic steps.
Group classes failed to deliver the desired level of Swing Dance proficiency so the conclusion was come to that only a PSDT (Private Swing Dance Teacher) would suffice. Callinan and Wallis share a remarkable chemistry on the dance floor. After embarking on a 5 step plan our hero and his partner enter the Up and Coming Swing Dancers competition. The result is a forgone conclusion. Along the way Wallis demonstrates her formidable talents in the Solo Charleston and the Australian Jitterbug divisions of the competition.
This show has a complex technical aspect with recorded music, voice overs and sound effects creating a slick polished production. Flat out dance action, witty dialogue and hilarious improvised interaction with the audience, Swing Man is a top Fringe pick.
Hey Boss presents
Venue: Casa Mondo | The Pleasure Garden, James St, Northbridge WA
Dates: 20 – 25 February 2018
Tickets: $28 – $32
Part of the 2018 Perth Fringe Festival