Image – Simon Schulter / Fairfax Syndication
The enigmatic storyteller that is Damian Callinan returns to Melbourne with his one man show The Merger. Now a fully-fledged feature film starring Callinan, Kate Mulvany and John Howard, the highly acclaimed and award winning writer, actor and comedian brings to life the down-and-out Bodgy Creek Roosters Footy Club with his cavalcade of characters. Ranging from (but not limited to) a 10 year old amateur filmmaker Neil, his grandfather Bull and of course the beloved club coach Troy Carrington who places high art and environmental activism in direct contrast to the overtly masculine footy club persona.
Callinan expertly treads the line of comedy and pathos, engaging the audience with the familiarity of Troy Carrington before launching into a performance that is anything from ordinary. With humour, respect and empathy, Callinan delves into immigration, racism, toxic masculinity and “boys club” culture, grief, loss and climate change. Somehow, through all these exceptionally heavy topics, Callinan is able to make his point without feeling like propaganda. There are uncomfortable moments in The Merger, awkward realisations from the audience as Callinan dips in and out of characters with ease, taking the audience along for the emotional ride.
For all its serious subject matter, The Merger remains hilarious and the comedy comes from the tragedy; the tragic situation of the Bodgy Creek Roosters, the tragic circumstances of Callinan’s characters and how humour is sometimes the only way to deal with grief. Callinan’s exceptional delivery and constant breaking of the fourth wall allow the audience a reprieve from the more serious moments.
The essence of The Merger and of Callinan’s characters is that things are not always as they seem and first impressions can be wrong. It is only through change, acceptance and understanding that we can create a culture we can be proud of. The Merger is a brilliantly executed performance that juxtaposes the bogan to the snob and challenges preconceived notions of the class system, all with Callinan’s trademark larrikin quality.
2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival
by Damian Callinan
Venue: The Cooper Malthouse – Beckett Theatre | 113 Sturt St, Southbank VIC
Dates: 9 – 21 April 2019
Tickets: $25 – $32