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Review: Damien Callinan: Double Feature at The Tower, Malthouse Theatre - MICF

Review by Wendy Samantha


Tonight was quite the treat!


Damien Callinan invites you all to join him in what is a highly entertaining evening in The Tower at Malthouse Theatre where you will be delighted by his clever storytelling skills and sentimental humour that takes you on a journey back to Melbourne in the 1940’s.


Funnily enough, despite the tiered seating and stage lights Callinan is able to create a surreal feeling where it’s almost as though you are sitting in his living room after a warm hearty dinner of chicken maryland stew, sipping red wine and listening to various tales of good company, giggling and flicking through old photo albums of the people you all know. He’s easy to listen to and includes the audience reactions, engaging all with fabulous comedic timing including when a phone goes off!


The atmosphere is set with the creative use of projection that includes precious old photographs, images of his family, his nieces drawings, well thought out text and funny movie poster photoshopped slides. There is a fabulous use of a female voice over, and simple music for transitions that break up the storyline to create interest. What Callinan is drawing us into through this performance is a slice of his family life that is relatable and to be rejoiced. Held together with love, selected scenes are highlighted based on his mother’s diary entries which include writings of when she was dating and first met his father. He uses the joke of “The Kathleen Stakes” that builds momentum as the show unfolds and we wait with baited breath which horse to back and who comes in first - or in this case, which man will win his mother’s heart.


Callinan does a tremendous job of bringing his mother’s memories back to life on stage, mixing it with moments from his father’s journals and providing us all with many good Melbournian laughs that take us through Northcote, Watsonia, Preston, Brunswick, Ringwood, and most definitely not through Templestowe down Blackburn Rd on a Friday night! His characters are real, as his family is, and Callinan includes some incredibly touching stories here that are so heartfelt and genuine. Able to make us laugh instead of cry, you reach for tissues but find yourself sitting up laughing out loud.


This show is a gem sitting in a treasure box at the back of your garage. Bring out the super 8 movies and get ready to reminisce. The Catholic jokes are funny, as is the use of the bell provided to an audience member and the references to hawaiian pizza and senior’s meals. You remember the Holeproof Factory, understand taking a trip to Dan Murphy’s and heading to Northland. As Aussies, we all relate.


Far from being “weak as piss”, Damien Callinan will set you up for a truly “beaut night” where he offers hilarity as a comedian whilst being captivating as an entertainer.

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