How much further can you fall after, at age 52, you have to return to live with your parents in the Yorke Peninsula town of Warooka – population 300 people (or rather 298, since Fiona and Cocaine Cassie both left) – and be driven by them in the back of the family car to Kadina to register for Centrelink?
That’s pretty far down – when you’ve ridden the highs and lows of an alcohol problem so hard that the latest trough has left you in a coma, and you and the family can only make gallows humour about it.
“I actually quite like being institutionalised, and I don’t mind custard.”
For her one-night-only Adelaide Fringe show at the Thebarton Hotel, O’Loughlin comes onto a subtle but atmospheric stage (red downlights and a purple background), then totally controls it.
“This is my last show of Gap Year,” she says, acknowledging that the material has been around for a while.
Gap Year is all about O’Loughlin and her family – about the way her family reacts to her being crazy, bad, selfish … drunk. Her son wants to know why she never comes to school and cuts fruit. “It would be like your teacher coming to this house and mashing potatoes.”
O’Loughlin also doesn’t mind telling us about her first bomb-out, die-on-stage moment at the age of 27, in Cairns, when she was confronted by a sea of uncomprehending, non-responsive faces. The wife of the president of the club quietly got out of her seat, climbed onto the stage and took the mike from her, saying, in front of the crowd: “Stop it, love, go home.”
You have to have some guts to come back from moments like that.
Some of O’Loughlin’s best moments in this show come out of her appearance on I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here (she was desperate for the money, by the way). Her fellow campmates included former One Nation deputy leader David Oldfield, who apparently couldn’t get over the fact that Aborigines never invented the wheel, and then there was Princess Diana’s butler.
Fiona O’Loughlin presents as a comedian who has been everywhere, done most of it and now turned a corner.
There is much rich material in this show from her life and her family. It will be very interesting to see where she takes her act in the next year or two.
Fiona O’Loughlin – Gap Year was presented at the Thebarton Theatre for one night only. See more Adelaide Fringe reviews and stories here.