Grahame Bond: My Imaginary Family

THE STREET THEATRE: What made a boy from a straight-laced, working-class family end up earning a living wearing a frock, a fat suit and a gold boxing glove on national television?
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When Grahame Bond – best known for his role as ‘Aunty Jack’ on ABC TV in the 1970s – mentioned that his imaginary family was about a bizarre childhood, a chaotic period of schooling, and a ridiculous university education in Architecture during the sexual revolution, I thought ‘Hey, this is something I can relate to!’

To my disappointment, that wasn’t the case. So here’s a heads up to all those survivors out there (you know the ones I’m talking about: people with bizarre childhoods who probably ended up creating havoc as sociopathic public servants); frankly, Bond’s experience was probably not as traumatic as your own.

The question Bond poses to us in his performance is: “What made a boy from a straight-laced, working class family end up earning a living wearing a frock, a fat suit and a gold boxing glove on national television?” I’m proud to say I can tell you the answer to that question, Grahame: your imagination.

Not the imagination required to make up non-existent friends to keep you company because you were left alone for so many nights as a child, but the imagination it took to find the link between the weirdest members of your family and the characters you invented in your shows.

You see, Mr Bond (and I hate to say this) but the impression I get from watching your one-man show is that you’re a little cruel. You know why? It’s because you profit from creating characters based on family members with serious personality disorders instead of trying to help them.

Watching My Imaginary Family was like being invited into your friend’s dad’s lounge room for a cuppa while you wait for your friend to get ready. You never get that cup of tea, but you do get a series of long (really long) yarns about Bond’s life, with the subject of each anecdote announced on a huge TV screen above the stage, coupled with a number of memorable songs.

But for those who are avid fans of Bond’s characters, including Aunty Jack, Kev Kavanagh and Flash Nick, this show will be more to your liking.

Bond recounts anecdotes about developing the characters he became well-known for, though he does not actually appear as any of his characters on stage (however you get to see their costumes, displayed on stage alongside other pieces of memorabilia). In essence, My Imaginary Family is your typical Baby Boomer recounting tales of his glory days in a one-man show; but if you loved The Aunty Jack Show then no doubt you’ll love this. It’s a sort of ‘making of’ Aunty-Jack; a behind the scenes look at the development of Bond’s characters and his satirical performance style told through stories and songs.

Grahame Bond: My Imaginary Family The Street Theatre, Canberra March 4 – 26

Sally D'Souza
About the Author
Sally D'Souza is a creative arts & media consultant based in Canberra who has advised, facilitated, and assisted in creative arts events and multi-media projects and productions from independent artists, companies to government bodies in Sydney, Canberra and in Melbourne since 2001. Over the years, she has curated exhibitions, edited publications, and managed performances, launches, events and festivals. She has also produced television and audio productions, short films, commercials, music albums as well as working in new media, which includes interactive creative story and digital art storytelling. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing and Graduate Diploma in Community Cultural Development. She has worked as a Curator for Artary Project Space, Senior Writer/Producer at WIN Television, Sub-editor for Multicultural Arts Victoria and Arts Writer for the Canberra Times. She is the winner of the 2005 ACT Pitching Competition and the Finalist to the National 2005 SPAA Fringe, Film City Inc., Pitching Competition, in which the rights of her winning story, Moments with Grace, was bought for the production of a feature film. Sally is passionate about community-based and cross-cultural creative performances that challenges and inspires its audience.