On the night of his dad’s funeral in 2018, Damian and his siblings discovered a diary penned by his mother in 1946. Whether it was a stand-alone journal or the sole survivor of a collection they’ll never know, but from the moment that Damian began reading excerpts to the family, he knew it was something special & suspected that it would become the focus for a new show. Charting the series of events leading to, and following the meeting of his parents, the diary is both a love story and a time capsule of life as Australians tried to readjust after the trials of WW2. The show impacted with audiences even before it hit the stage with Damian being interviewed on ABC Conversations with Richard Fidler about his parent’s story. The show resonated even more, and Damian soon realised that the show’s themes of love and loss would lead to the show having a long life. In 2023, Double feature will appear at Perth Fringeworld, Adelaide Fringe, Melbourne Comedy Festival as well as touring with Regional Arts Victoria across the country.
Mining the surprise discovery of his mother’s 1946 diary, Damian Callinan creates a cinematic, romantic romp through Post WW2 Melbourne.
The show initially recreates the 1940s movie theatre experience with big band orchestras and newsreels leading the audience into the first feature film. A camera weaves through the crowd at a packed 1940s town hall dance. However, just as we meet our heroine, the film comes to an abrupt halt and the audience are returned to live on stage, where Damian admits he ran out of funding to finish the film. With the audience’s permission, he begins to pitch how he thinks the rest of the film will play out.
Using voice over extracts from the diary, Damian begins to flesh out potential scenes, explores the social history of the time and also discovers that his dad wasn’t the only suitor vying for his mum’s affections. As the list of admirer’s lengthens, Damian introduces the idea of making the film a split narrative using his dad’s retirement diaries as the source material: The ex-school principal’s attention to detail alongside the charming musings of the 19 year old social butterfly making for hilarious contrasts. Eventually back in 1946, the recently returned RAAF fly boy from Northcote emerges from the pack as the most likely to win Kathleen’s hand.
During the course of the performance, Damian darts back and forth between the two texts and dual timelines, contrasting their courting days & retirement years. From town hall dances to Probus Club excursions and victory parades to Better Hearing classes.
However, the film’s plot takes an unexpected turn when Adrian’s otherwise sweet and amusing diary, reveals the sudden and tragic accident that ultimately ends their loving 61 year relationship. However, that is no way to end a romantic blockbuster. The screenwriter returns to the original 1946 diary, and the final scene of the film plays out on the silver screen. Finally, the dashing fly boy sweeps the Preston girl off her feet at a CYMS dance in East Brunswick.