Friday, August 31, 2012

Victoria Fringe Festival '12: "Dirk Darrow:" NcSSi Gets Serious ... or Not

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The 26th Annual Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival is alive with comedy, drama, horror and noir for even the fans of the supernatural to enjoy. Two years ago, this reviewer took notice when "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" was recreated for live theatre, and once the Fringe is in your blood, there is no turning back.

This year, "Dirk Darrow: NcSSi (Not completely Serious Supernatural investigator)" will tell theatre enthusiasts why. When audiences recognize that the performer is in the moment, that defines a show. Tim Motley is Dirk Darrow. To see him as the befuddled investigator trying to solve a mysterious death is part of the spectacle. He entertains a crowd with his one-liners, gags and puns. His Sam Spade-like performance is part of this show’s highlight.

The character of Dirk Darrow might even make Sergeant Joe Friday from Dragnet's smirk. But when his routine is based more on referencing modern contemporary icons than those from the 30’s, a few nuances are missed.

To mix it up with modern references (or even dance routines) than vintage icons from the era displaces the noir stylings this show is supposed to be drawing upon. Darrow says the year is 1937, but the show is taking place in 2012. Did he suddenly walk through a time warp?

To note that the damsel that Darrow is dating has Bette Davis’ eyes can add more to this show’s atmosphere than detract. Even Mae West might have something to say or two about the direction of this play. Paris Hilton is just too much of a modern girl and referencing her just does not work.

Had the murder been been about reclaiming a pile of cursed Aztec gold, maybe some more jokes could have been made at Disney's expense. Nearly everyone loves to tease the mouse somehow.

When this P.I. is called upon to solve a mystery, that is when the story develops. Shelden Snodgrass has been murdered. In order to solve the crime, Darrow needs to call upon the audience to help. And at the same time, this detective believes the “killer” is hiding amongst this crowd. The humour that really shines from this part of the show is when the attendees try to screw Darrow up. Motley rolls with whatever the audiences toss at him, and that makes for a decent show.

Without it, the performance is only as good as the scripted material will allow. Ad-libbing is everything in comedy and that is highly important. Motley even demonstrates his paranormal prowess with a few good mindreading and magic tricks. The latter does not really add to the story he builds though. At the end, to figure out whodunnit is all that matters. At the Fringe festival circuit, to find where this show will play next is even better.

Overall: 6.5 out of 10.

To find showtimes or learn where this show will tour next, please visit:

The Dirk Darrow Website

To learn more about the Victoria Fringe Festival, please visit:

The Victoria Fringe Festival

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