If you’re looking for a new holiday destination, the small Northern Irish town of Ballybeg has forced its way onto the list, boasting a set of highly eclectic locals and effective airlines to both Edinburgh and its sister city, Ougadougou. Here to promote Ballybeg in all its surreal glory is Daniel Duffy, the slow but well meaning creation of comedian Michael Stranney. Duffy is forced to improvise when the ancient projector breaks down, telling stories of strange banal locals through extremely naive eyes.
This show exists in the same realm as Father Ted, to the point where Duffy feels suspiciously like Father Dougal McGuire. He has the same wide-eyed, innocent outlook on the world, always looking for the best in people, ignorant to the world’s problems. In some ways it feels like this show was originally written as Father Ted fanfiction. It’s a concept that’s been done before.
Stranney is a dedicated performer, and manages to consistently deliver straight-faced enthusiasm. Whilst the character and concept are strong, the material becomes predictable fairly quickly, and the audience become less invested in Duffy and his quest to get a date to the dance. Duffy comes across as a character that would work in a sketch, but stretched to an hour show it just became difficult to watch.
It’s a very hit-and-miss show: some stories have the audience laughing, but others are undeniably cringe-worthy. All the same though, Welcome to Ballybeg is, to its credit, an atypical comedy show.
Words: Catriona Davidson
Michael Stranney: Welcome to BallyBeg, Pleasance Courtyard, Aug 25, 6pm