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October 15, 2012 / Siobhan Argent

Damian Callinan in ‘The Merger’ – Melbourne Fringe Festival

Published October 2012 in Crikey

Damian Callinan proves in this show that he’s capable of baring more skin, bum included, than we see at the average Brownlow awards ceremony.

His well-meaning but somewhat bland The Merger pokes fun at good old ‘Straya in a familiar, non-aggressive way.

The Merger is a relatively family friendly show if you’re acquainted with the standard level of swearing covered in pretty much any Australian comedy show. But where there’s safety in a wide audience, there’s also little effect; The Merger doesn’t really succeed in pulling the comedic rabbit out of the hat.

This is a one-man show in which Callinan does a solid job of playing both a young child, a gruff football-club owner, and an Afghani. The plot revolves around a daydreamer’s modern-day football team, threatened by financial ruin but accepting of all races, religions and humane interests. The boys go off to arts festivals as part of their regular footy trips and various individuals within the team ponder or buy ‘Szechuan porterhouse’ from their local multicultural pub.

It’s a show that’s relatively uncategorised and that in itself is frustrating. It’s not purely comedy nor purely theatre. If you’re going to see a comedy show, it’s certainly not a laugh a minute, but neither are you driven to emotional peaks and troughs by the bitterly realistic depiction of the trials endured by people who do achieve refugee status in Australia.


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