Rebus McTaggart

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett


Rebus McTaggart is not, as you might expect from the title,
a spoof on Scottish TV detectives, but a straightforward character
piece in which Richard Thomson plays a community support copper,
giving a talk to a bunch of potential crimefighters.

He makes a convincing fist of it, too. He has the arrogant
patter of the policeman combined with the careful delivery of
the part-time public speaker. This is comedy, though, so he has
his share of quirks, from an inordinate pride in his mime work
to a sexual fetish for Gatso speed cameras, becoming aroused
simply by talking about them.

At its best, the script he delivers is elegantly witty, using
well-placed gags with restraint to tease out the laughs. Only
problem is, that quality can't be sustained over the whole show,
which feels like two or three good sketches surrounded by an
equal amount of dead wood.

To try to bolster McTaggart's diminishing appeal, a trio of
other creations are introduced ­ with creaking explanations
as to why the Scottish law-enforcer has to leave the stage to
make way for them.

So we meet a Greek psychological profiler called Evangelos,
who is little more than a silly accent and a sillier beard, who
has one decent mime joke (and that's two words you don't often
see together) and little else, and rubbish photofit artist Margaret
Stewart, who also has just the one joke, and a less funny one
at that. Pretty pointless, the pair of them.

The third character is Benji, the drug-sniffing dog, and Thomson
deserves credit for looking outside his genus to find original
characters. And quite an odd beast Benji is, too, with a truly
surreal pay-off.

Proceedings come to a close with an extended crime reconstruction,
allowing Thomson to interact with a particularly sullen teenager
particularly unwilling to throw himself into the situation. Such
stunts often telegraph the fact that the writer's run out of
things to say - and that's the case here, but we do have plenty
of fun at the hapless volunteer's half-hearted efforts, not to
mention McTaggart's exasperation at them.

Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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