Almanac Theatre – “The Merger” by Damian Callinan: A Review


Coops, Nugget, Macca. The usual suspects from a country football team, but the characters all emerge from the audience as we are lured into the world of Damian Callinan’s impressive one-man show about the Bodgy Creek Football Club.


I wait nervously to be included in the narrative. Footy name at the ready. I reckon Chooka will cover it. Phew! Crisis averted. The team has been selected with Goober, Snapper and Nailgun already on the list. I listen carefully to coach Troy’s half-time speech calling for better Elizabethan verse – ‘Yea verily – tis that a midfielder from yon stoppage breaks?’, or perhaps ‘Man in white, thine eyes deceive you!’ as he revs us up for the second half. Ocker hard man, club president Bull Barlow with little regard for ‘queue jumpers’, appears and he is desperate to ward off a merger with local rivals Hudson’s Flat Cougars. An effortless change of perspective emerges from Bull’s grandson, young 10 year old Neil Barlow, who provides the local gossip, and provides us with some Bodgy Creek history. Seamlessly, Sayyid, one of the refugees recruited to the team, tells his sorrowful tale of being stuck on ‘Prison Island’ but fortunately through a book left behind by a teacher he gains a chance to learn from Australia’s great philosopher, Kevin Sheedy.


We in the audience laugh along the way – at the tree stump in the middle of town that claims yet another motor vehicle victim, Bull Barlow’s battle with yet another prostate operation,  Sayyid’s adaptation to the change room antics of his teammates, and Neil’s wry observations as he prepares his second documentary of the Bodgy Creek Football Club.


But there are also intermittent moments of pin-drop quiet when we are held captivated by Sayyid and Bull’s poignant descriptions of loss. The live theatrical element quickly draws me into the shoes of these characters as I identify with the raw humanity of their experience.


As the show finishes the Bodgy Creek spell is broken, but for 75 minutes I have been whisked away to rural Australia and an appreciation for the close community bonds formed through the redemptive shared experience of footy.


Check out the special ticket deal to the show for the Almanac community, details HERE


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Followed Essendon down family lines since the days of Coleman. Music lover with a theory that most conversations have already been previously captured in song lyrics.

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