Award-winning comedian Damian Callinan’s hit one-man show The Merger comes full circle and returns to the stage for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from 9-21 April. The season follows the tale’s hugely successful, 2018 feature film adaptation – starring Kate Mulvany, John Howard and Callinan himself – where it was shortlisted for the Cinefest Oz Prize, scored multiple AACTA nominations and rave reviews, reverently compared by critics to cult Aussie classics such as The Castle.
Originally commissioned by Regional Arts Victoria and Vic Health to tackle issues of racism in rural communities, The Merger tells the tale of Bodgy Creek Football Club and coach Troy Carrington, whose battling team seems destined to either fold or merge with their arch rivals. Callinan effortlessly fluctuates between characters crossing age, gender and ethnicity as Coach Carrington’s mission unfolds: to recruit asylum seekers and save his team.
“Turning The Merger into a film has been the highlight of my career, but I still love performing the solo version,” says Callinan. “Since the adaptation I’ve had people shaking their heads in wonderment about how that story could possibly be told by one man on a near empty stage. I look forward to them nodding and saying ‘oh, that’s how, with sock puppets!”
After its successful season at MICF, where it scored Callinan his third Barry Award nomination, The Merger toured to Adelaide Fringe, Sydney’s Seymour Centre, Brisbane and Hobart comedy festivals, and toured rural Australia with Regional Arts Victoria, Country Arts SA and Country Arts WA.
Damian Callinan is a multi award-winning stand-up comic, actor and writer. He is best known to TV audiences for his roles on Skithouse and Before The Game, as well as regular guest appearances on shows such as Spicks & Specks and the Melbourne Comedy Festival Gala. He is also a regular contributor on 774ABC Melbourne.
‘The Merger’ is another terrific solo effort from one of this country’s finest character comedians’
– Michael Ward, Herald Sun
‘He is a sharp comic performer and raconteur. What is surprising is the nimbleness and nuance in his characters. All the focus is on Callinan and he holds it expertly.’
– Jason Blake, Sydney Morning Herald
Image: Simon Schulter / Fairfax Syndication
6.45pm 9-21 April 2019 (5.45pm Sundays, no Mondays)
The Coopers Malthouse
113 Sturt St, Southbank
Bookings: malthousetheatre.com.au | comedyfestival.com.au