Up There, Cal Wilson (FringeTIX)
Cal Wilson @ Fringe Factory Theatre
7:30pm, Fri 30 Mar 2007
It’s early Friday night. There’s a small crowd that probably only quarter-fills the Fringe Factory Theatre, and there’s a very odd vibe in the air. There’s a burbling kind of buzz emanating from the Tiki Bar that desperately wants to be raucous but just can’t be arsed. The crowd is an odd mix, too – a fair few kids with their dads, a few groups of girls prepping for a night on the town.
Cal Wilson takes to the stage amidst one of the classic rock football anthems (probably Up There Cazaly or One Day In September, I really can’t remember), and I’m immediately expecting great things from the show. A short, svelte Kiwi lass, carrying the lovely blended accent of an ex-pat New Zealander, Wilson has an affable charm that endears her… to me. The rest of the audience, however, felt weary… the laughs are polite, but Wilson had to work hard for them.
The show tracks Wilson’s integration into Australian life through football, from her first larkish visit to an AFL game (“Carn the Sailors!”), to her realisation that this was The Game For Her, all the way through to her decision to become a Supporter. And this is the crux of the show; which team should she choose? She fills us in on the angst of her selection process, weeding out clubs on the basis of location, “dinky” club songs, or club colours (including Port Power’s metrosexual teal – or “poofter blue”).
Some aspects of the show are exactly what you’d expect: comparisons to her hometown national sport of rugby. Poking a gigglish finger at the gibberish spoken by both players and coaches alike (including the great Alan Joyce “sausage” quote). The stereotypes associated with supporters from each AFL team. “Why aren’t ‘behinds’ called ‘besides’?”… that sort of thing. But it’s all amusing enough and impeccably researched, and some snippets are absolutely priceless; quite how (or why) she tracked down the “inspiration” (and I use that term very loosely) for the Freo club song is beyond me.
Best of all, though, is the relative lack of cheap shots (apart from the rugby comparisons). Using her outsider’s viewpoint, Wilson compassionately addresses the impact of AFL on Australian culture – the bonding nature of the game, the passion of the supporters. She hits all the right notes, tugs all the footy heartstrings and, with a teensy bit of trimming, she’d have a nigh-on perfect show.
Of course, her minxy end-of-show “strip” to reveal her Chosen Team’s colours helps seal the deal, too, even though her ads foreshadow The Choice rather spoilerifically ;)