The Out Of Print Book Club
Adelaide actor Tim Overton met Damian whilst a performing a State Theatre SA season and national tour in 2013. Hours together in the Tarago not only cemented their friendship, but gave seed to what would eventually become an improvised comedy format.
Behind the wheel at the time, Damian asked Tim what he thought of the ‘Donkey Beta Gestation’ Sci Fi series of books. Sensing correctly that theyu didnt exist Tim repiled anyway and the tow banged on until the van came to a stop in Taree. Towwards the end of the tour they began to relaise they may be on to a unique, improvised format and began taking notes. The Out of Print Book Clun hit tehts atge kless than a year later.
For every book published there are 100’s that hibernate in hard drives, stagnate in second draws and fester in the frontal lobes. Determined to unleash this tsunami of literary potential are multi-award winning comedian/actor Damian Callinan [Spicks & Specks, Skithouse, Backyard Ashes] and actor Tim Overton [State Theatre SA, Patch, Junglebean]
Rotating festival comics and actors join the self-styled, impro bookworms as they conjure unpublished classics before your eyes as ‘The First Tuesday Book Club’ meets ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’
At any given session you may see a reading of Shakespeare’s recently discovered attempt at a sitcom, witness a dissection of Brendan Fevola’s little known tome on the American Civil War, delight in the memoirs of fictional, 70’s psychedelic band ‘Liquid Wednesday’. Watch prominent Fringe personalities plug books they have yet to write and generally get caught in the maelstrom as the talented rotisserie of panellists push the unpublished.
Be part of the fiction in this world premiere as Damian & Tim re-kindle their onstage relationship after a critically acclaimed State Theatre SA 2013 national tour of ‘The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare – Abridged.’
‘I didn’t write that!’ – Banjo Patterson
‘Wish I had’ – Jane Austen
2014 – Adelaide Fringe @ Ayres House
2014 – Melbourne Comedy Festival @ Melbourne Town Hall
2014 – Write Around The Murray Book Festival – Albury
Arts Hub – Katherine Gale
Damian Callinan and Tim Overton preside over a changing roster of literature-based comedy talent in The Out Of Print Book Club. Situated in the beautiful Ayers House until March 2, this enjoyable show has all the advantages, but also the disadvantages, of improvisation.
The two hosts are joined each show by three other Fringe performers. Callinan and Overton guide this group through a series of improvisations. They invent a baroque four-book saga about a truck driver. They discuss the books each of them are working on or have recently published. They debate the quality of storytelling and ideas in a sci-fi children’s novel. And they re-enact a scene from a newly rediscovered Shakespeare play.
Callinan and Overton act as excellent hosts, assisting their guest to find jokes and new ideas. The set up is well-planned, and the hosts always have a new idea to move on to. Beyond that, they are very entertaining themselves. This keeps the show interesting and the crowd laughing. However, you do get the impression that the two best performers on stage are the two hosts. The structure, in which they are constantly throwing the focus onto their guests, leaves you wishing you’d been able to see more of, and hear more from, the hosts.
Of course, improvisation is mercurial and always stands or falls on the abilities of those taking parts. On the day of this review, there was one guest who clearly couldn’t keep up with the rest of the performers. On a number of occasions, this broke up a flow of ideas just as it got going. The other guests and the hosts were able to work around this and the show was still pretty funny but it is hard not to wonder about what might have been.
It is also important to provide ways for participants in improvisation to use their best skills. Some will excel at word play, others at creating scenes and characters. This show improved markedly when the performers were able to start taking on caricatures and putting together skits.
Despite these shaky aspects, The Out Of Print Book Club has plenty of good jokes, both scripted and cooked up on the spot. The hosts are charming and there are enough ideas altogether to make the whole thing work. The audience is chuckling throughout and the action on stage never feels stuck or directionless.
The Out of Print Book Club is a well-oiled diversion with the potential, on the right day, to be brilliant.
Rating: 3 ½ out of 5 stars