Bruce Devlin: Selkirk Bannock

Note: This review is from 2005

Review by Steve Bennett

At the start of Bruce Devlin’s show, he makes an aside about only thinking this project was a good idea five months ago.  Judging from the results, it appears those five months passed without any thought or effort, as this really is a bafflingly unfunny slice of character comedy.

Opening the show dressed as a crossover between a cowboy and a chef, Devlin is actually at his best as his uber-camp self.  He appears quite harmless and witty as he discusses different diets and their appearance in women’s magazines -  casually crude and insulting, but with enough amiability to be quite funny. 

However, when he returns in the first of four guises (all guests discussing diets on radio station Selkirk Bannock), any modicum of laughter seems to have been left offstage.

Each character is equally confusing in their motive and purpose, with only the most  tenuous links to the shows’ theme.  For example, his confessional character named only as X who provides a tour of gay Edinburgh through his description of an abusive relationship with a psychic dwarf just seems completely irrelevant to the cause. 

This, however, is not as much of a problem as the fact that the characters are simply not funny.  His blonde housewife character – constantly complaining about her fat child – is just not believable enough to get laughs of recognition, constantly having to resort to a poor catchphrase to desperately mine anything. 

As things progress and the initial laughter dies into perpetual silence, the script becomes increasingly coarse and offensive simply for the sake of it.  What’s more, these characters are performed with no enthusiasm whatsoever, as if Devlin knows how badly conceived they are and simply cannot be bothered.

This final sentiment is echoed at the show’s conclusion when Devlin finishes the show after 40 minutes so he can go and get a drink.  Whether this is the planned ending or whether it was cut short in the spare of the moment is debatable, but either way, no one could possibly blame him for baling out.

Review date: 1 Jan 2005
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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