Chris McIlroy Presents The Legend Of Davey Kelly | Review by Steve Bennett

Chris McIlroy Presents The Legend Of Davey Kelly

Review by Steve Bennett

For his solo debut, Chris McIlroy has certainly unearthed a cracking story from the criminal archives of 1960s Belfast.

David Kelly was an amateur hitman, specialising in abusive husbands at a time when divorce was socially taboo. An former British soldier, he was almost comically inept, working out of a public phone box and claiming many collateral victims in a morbid slapstick comedy of errors. And his tactic of blaming the deaths on either republican or loyalist terrorists was sure to backfire.

There’s a filmic nature to the tale – a crucial turning point that made him question his own marriage, mounting jeopardy as the net closes in, and a redemption, of sorts, in the final act.

It’s a compelling series of events that has the audience hooked. However. McIlroy’s underqualified as a storyteller, struggling to add value to the facts – reading fairly dispassionately, as if he were sharing an interesting Wikipedia entry rather than bringing the characters and situations to vivid life.

He’s vague on language and facts, with lots of ‘she was kinda…’, ‘something along the lines of…’ ’…and stuff like that’ – tics that are symptomatic of the show’s weaknesses. A story lives by its precision, the details that evoke a sense of person or place, and McIlroy provides us with little of this, providing a list of facts - or sometimes conjecture.

Though not billed as such, McIlroy said this show at Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival was a work in progress, despite a seven-night run at Edinburgh last year. But hopefully he’ll come to paint some detail into this great framework of a story, for it is a corker.

Review date: 21 Feb 2016
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Leicester Exchange Bar

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