‘I Spied’ is based on Callan’s experiences as a former employee of ASIO, combining anecdotes with moments of mime, absurdist and dark humour.
One of my favourite moments caught me in the second half when he compares ASIO to the arts, and terrorist organisations to theatre companies; he likens STC to Al Qaeda because they’re major and noteworthy, and Boko Haram to Bangarra “because no one’s really sure what they’re on about, but we know they’re important.”
Indeed, it is in these moments where Callan allows the darker shades of his comedy to appear that the show really hits its stride and are the show’s highlights. Not all of Callan’s jokes hit but when they did, they really did.
Therein lies one of the issues with ‘I Spied’- it never seems to fully be aware of what sort of show it wants to be, and its attempts to please everyone can leave it feeling hollow on occasion. The show opens with mimed escapades and a sketch- neither of which are styles touched upon again. Both are well performed and enjoyable, but slightly stall the show from finding its footing.
Callan is undeniably a true and quick-witted showman, and the show is a fine piece of comedy that simply needs a more focused approach.