Jo’s Burke Shire is inhabited by a series of dysfunctional misfits: all very well-acted but sometimes lacking in good jokes. She sets the scene with her main character – Mary Magdalene, the alcoholhic, man-hungry mayor of Burke Shire – who introduces us to this radioactive, crime-ridden land, before other members of the town come forward.
Some of these characters are brilliant, with the video of the saucy newsreader being the highlight of the show.
Some of these characters are brilliant, with the video of the saucy newsreader being the highlight of the show. However, as a clear ruse to bring out a diverse cast of bizarre (and occasionally surreal) characters, the premise can feel flunky and forced at times. For example with Pat, of Pat Spies’ pie shop, being nothing more than an excuse to tell (often quite poor) jokes – adding no relevance to the overriding theme. Indeed, there are quite a few jokes throughout that fall flat, particularly the lines that are too self-consciously outrageous, like a Princess Di joke or the song about wanting ‘some cock’. They’re tired jokes, simply aimed to shock, but end up having no impact at all.
These duds are a shame, as Burke is clearly very talented, oozing charm and confidence, with a whole host of adept accents (although quite why everyone in Burke Shire has different accents was, of course, unexplained). Some of the best parts were the filmed interludes during costume changes – the aforementioned newsreader, plus a particularly gruesome series of ads for plastic surgery – or were borne out of audience interaction, where she proved herself very capable thinking on the spot. Therefore the fact that the show was geared towards very scripted characters, rather than clever mini films or participatory comedy, felt a bit of a let-down. With a few more good lines, this would be a brilliant show – but I have a feeling that Burke is a lot funnier than her characters allow her to be.