Eureka Stocktake, Damian’s 4th solo show was originally written for the ‘Eureka 150 Festival’ in 2004. The show displayed his diversity as a performer combining a rich vein of storytelling; stand up and characterisation with nuggets of history and pathos.
The premise – Damian decided to do a one-man show about his brave forebears who fought in the Eureka Stockade of 1854. What he hadn’t counted on was the myriad of other community groups also keen to stake their Eureka claim. Thus, on the night, he finds that his venue has received multiple bookings. He is then forced to share the stage, negotiating his own storytelling around the interruptions of a high school rock eisteddfod act; an amateur gay historian trying to rediscover our pink past; an aggressive union rep displeased at the inappropriate usage of the southern cross flag and a loud primary school kid reading choose your own adventure stories.
When he finally wrests back control of the stage to get his story under way he finds that he has unwittingly invoked a Celtic spell that sends him back to 1854 in exchange for one of his forebears who finds himself standing on a Bakery Hill somewhat changed from his time.
The story then switches back and forth as each try to make sense of their new world before the adventurous climax which … you get to choose yourself.
2004 Eureka 150 Festival – Ballarat & Melbourne
2005 Melbourne Comedy Festival
2005 – Hothouse Theatre Comedy Festival – Albury
2005 – State Library of Victoria
Steve Bennett – Chortle.co.uk – The Uk’s leading comedy website. April 2005
The Eureka Stockade was a brief but fatal skirmish between goldminers furious at a corrupt, overpriced licensing system and the armed troops employed to enforce it.
But you don’t need to know that; because Damian Callinan’s show is so inventive, lively and daft that it is irresistibly, rollickingly funny whatever your knowledge of the period known to learned Australian historians as ‘the olden days’.
Callinan’s all very self-referential: characters complaining about the dodgy Irish accent they’ve been given, or of the technical limitations of a one-man show. But all these in-jokes and cheery audience banter are a smokescreen to hide the fact the show is so well constructed that the gear-change from ribald, knockabout comedy to intelligent politically aware pathos is seamless.
This is an hour that has everything, not only showcasing Callinan’s well-honed talents as a charismatic stand-up, character actor and comedy writer, but ensuring the audience are entertained for every minute along the way. It’s pure gold.