Steve Bugeja: Day Release

It’s not hard to imagine Steve Bugeja becoming a big comedy star in the next few years. He tells us early on that he’s a real geek, an awkward introvert who can’t cope with most social situations. And yet, he’s a complete natural on the stage, trading quips with the front row and endearing himself to the audience with funny, revealing asides. He primes us into thinking he’s a nerdy wallflower who never lives life to the fullest and avoids risky situations. Then he tells us how he picked up a convicted criminal, on day release from prison, so they could attend the wedding of the girl Bugeja has been in love with since childhood. The prisoner in question is also the girl’s father. Exactly the sort of situation Bugeja wants to avoid.

It’s a touching story, well told by Bugeja. We don’t get to hear every detail; for example, we don’t know why the girl’s father is in prison, although Bugeja drops frequent (and hilarious) hints. The story section of the show is fascinating, but the funniest moments come from Bugeja’s self-effacing gags and callbacks. Bugeja packs the show with great jokes, especially during the first section before the story wraps up a little too neatly. For all his social-ineptitude, Bugeja makes for an instinctive, genuine comic.

****

Stuart Addison