Rose Callaghan @ Forum Melbourne
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Rose Callaghan @ Forum Melbourne

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Rose Callaghan was recently diagnosed with ADHD. She’s 32 years old, and realises it’s late in life to be diagnosed with the condition. But although she’s now on medication – which she refers to as “legal speed” – if she hadn’t repeatedly made a point of being ADHD, we’d have had our suspicions.

Rose Before Hoes is the Melbourne comedian’s first hour-long festival show, and it’s an exhausting ride. Callaghan seems quite comfortable onstage in front of an audience, but the whole show was motored by nervous energy. There were definitely no lulls in the comedian’s delivery, but you couldn’t really say she got into a flow. The stage time was stuffed full, moving from one point to the next. And while there were some narrative coordinates, the overall impression was rather hazy.

That said, in rummaging through memories of her infancy, recent sexual experiences, excursions with her grandma, as well as getting in a back-and-forth with a reviewer from The Australian, Callaghan did give us a reasonably clear depiction of her personality.

Callaghan occasionally showed signs of flippant bitterness and a comic lack of empathy. However, she was more often self-deprecating. Shrewdly, she never fell into self-absorbed moaning, but rather used self-deprecation as a way of absolving the intrinsic narcissism that comes with stand-up comedy. It was in this territory that she most excelled.

Laughs were never far away throughout, but given its scattershot composition the show’s length didn’t feel entirely justified. Rose Before Hoes may not have been a beginning to end triumph, but the standout moments were more than enough to warrant curiosity about the comedian’s future.

BY AUGUSTUS WELBY  

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