Review: Damian Callinan – The Merger: Sportsman’s Night 2

Ciannon Cazaly 28 March 2010

The saga of the Bodgy Creek football club continues in this follow-up to the hugely successful Sportsman’s Night of 2000/2001. Ten year old documentary filmmaker Neil returns to check in on the fortunes of the Bodgy Creek Roosters bringing with him a cast of characters both old and new.

In this next instalment of the story the Roosters are in dire straits.  The team has no money, not enough players (they have even, shock horror, been playing girls) and the club rooms have just been condemned due to asbestos.  The path seems set for a merger with arch enemies Hudson’s Flat.

Damian Callinan slips adeptly between the cast of Bodgy Creek characters from Bull Barlow the old school club president with a prostate complaint, to born-again new-age coach Troy Carrington.  A highlight was the always delightful Goober and Snapper – intermittently depicted as a pair of rather haphazard sock puppets.

Thankfully coach Troy Carrington, returning from the Copehangen Climate Change summit, comes through with a brilliant plan to bring asylum seekers to the club securing them both new players and grant money to rebuild the club house, complete with scoreboard/minaret.  New recruit, Afghani refugee Said wins games and hearts for the Roosters and steals the show as a most compelling character.

Callinan’s performance is polished, adding a gentle hint of audience participation and confidently breaking down the fourth wall when the occasion calls for it.

The show raises some poignant questions about social inclusion in Australia, the decline of rural communities, treatment of asylum seekers and the role of football in Australia’s social fabric, and does so with humanity, warmth and a great deal of humour.

If one thing let the show down it was the venue.  At points Callinan struggled to be heard over the noise spilling from the downstairs bar.  He did well not to let it affect his performance, but I confess it affected my concentration at points.

For something that permeates the culture of Melbourne as forcefully as football, it is a surprisingly rare topic of interest at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.  Lets hope we won’t have to wait another ten years for the next episode in the story of the Bodgy Creek Roosters.

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