Dreich Encounter is the latest production from Aberdeen’s long-running comedy team, the Flying Pigs. Each half is bookended with strong sketches that should become firm favourites with the fans. Returning characters have been developed much to the enjoyment of said loyal fans. This opening night is enthusiastically supported throughout and it is clear that the local audience appreciate their efforts.
Other than these four sketches, the comedy doesn’t stand up very well. Simply employing Doric is not enough. Many of the sketches are undeveloped, or worse, simply not funny, not down to the effort of those on stage, but just a curious choice of material. One of the overarching sketches was set partially in the 1970s; some of the poorer sketches seemed to date from the same era. All over the North-East there is a rich and diverse language, so it could be considered offensive that people who “spik” this way are being portrayed as simpletons.
Although an ensemble cast production, the strongest standout performer is Craig Pike, whose Doric skills just seem to flow without the need to shout. The sheer number of his roles must be a challenge in itself. Flying Pigs have made a successful, and it has to be said, popular routine which has been compared to a punk Scotland the What? Other than the four strong sketches, the comparison doesn’t hold up, as a listen back to some Scotland the What? will show.
I recently reviewed O is for Hoolet. Ishbel McFarlane looked at how Scots languages can wither if they are simply used for humour because people will not want to speak them for fear of being mocked. Certain points in Dreich Encounter give that exact feeling of embarrassment.
The AFFA, the insurance and the train sketches hold up well, as they don’t treat Doric speakers as foolish. The last sketch, ‘Ach, it’ll be fine’ is the strongest. Were the rest of the show up to this level of humour and relevance then this would have been a completely different review.
The Flying Pigs have built a reputation over many years which is all the more impressive given that they all have day jobs. A less than glowing review will not damage them. Moving forward though, they could fill 130 minutes more fruitfully in order to justify extended runs like this one.