This is Jack Hibberd’s most popular play, written in 1968 (in London!), it still enjoys some 16 productions a year, mostly in the country, whose denizens it satirizes. Dimboola is an audience participation play in which the audience ‘become’ guests at a wedding breakfast where everything goes wrong. The sectarian (Catholic and Protestant) tensions (essentially comic) between the families of the bride and groom erupt into violence and social mayhem. Other characters and factors turn the occasion into a Rabelaisian farce, but still ultimately a celebration.
The groom, Morrie, is essentially a lovable monosyllabic rustic drongo, who in the face of every social disaster happening before him can only respond:
|No worries at all.|
The inebriated presiding priest, the Very Reverend Father Patrick O’Shea, in his speech keeps referring to the bride ‘Maureen’ as ‘Daphne’, confuses the parents, and diverges into Joycean rhetoric and comic persiflage about horse racing, Ireland’s turf, and cards.
The play is suffused with the spirit of forgotten vaudeville, particularly in the song-and-dance routines (and repartee) of the unsavoury interlopers Mutton and Bayonet – one of whom has “a touch of he tar”.
Dimboola boasts a small band, ‘Lionel Driftwood and the Pile-Drivers”, who supply music for the numerous songs, which the cast and ‘guests’ sing.
The menu, as printed in the published play, is a tribute to country women – e.g: Poule
a la Wimmera with Sauce Mysterioso and Blanc Mange Jeparit.
|MAUREEN:||(to Morrie) Everybody seems to be enjoying themselves.|
|SHIRL:||Jeez, I feel real beaut. It’s going straight to my head.|
|DARKIE:||You’re right tonight, Dangles.|
|KNOCKA:||He’s a moral.|
“Dimboola is a Rabelaisian romp, with lashings of vulgarity, boasting a plastered Catholic priest, sectarian warfare among the parents of the bride and groom, physical violence, prurient innuendo, a barrage of jokes and ceaseless swilling. It is in truth the ‘ Breakfast from Hell’, and is doomed to be called the ‘Wedding of the Year’. Dimboola is certain to be regarded ambivalently by country folk.”
- Leonardo Radish (The Age, 1973)
EVELYN and BRUCE SPENCE