[Victoria Fringe Festival ’15] Dirk Darrow Returns to Victoria with Two Ruby Knockers, A Review

31 Aug

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

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VENUE:
Victoria Event Centre
1415 Broad Street

PERFORMANCE DATES:
Sept 2 | 6:15 pm
Sept 4 | 10:00 pm
Sept 5 | 4:45 pm
Sept 6 | 6:30 pm

LENGTH:
60 minutes

Any criticisms I had before about Tim Motley‘s characterization of the gumshoe, Dirk Darrow, are moot after seeing him in 2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick. This newest show by this Australian performer is a solid tribute (done as a parody, complete with puns) to the noir stylings from the golden age of cinema, with a few terrific magic acts buried within. When compared to what I wrote on 28DLA.com years ago investigating the supernatural aspects that drew me to this show, there were other parts in the production I had to question. This review is reprinted with permission (see below) where I noted his jokes included modern cultural references. I love the fact this new act stayed 100% in period.

In this show, gone are the paranormal references. His sleuthing abilities requires the audience’s help, and even when his hunches are wrong (mistaking someone who should be male but is instead female, or getting their occupation wrong), he rolls with it. When he trying to find witnesses to a murder, not the audience may not necessarily know whodunit. When he gets a member of the audience on stage, not even they will get what’s going on. The best laughs come from when a few of these random folks seemingly try to trip him up or do not realize they are being set up. Isn’t that what a good detective caper does? Motley is a true professional; he rolls with failed cues even if it means one trick gets messed up. What’s great are the lighting changes where it’s spot on.

Just like the films of yore, you just have either play it again, Sam — or not.

Everyone gets a good laugh and I was in stitches. If God was in this show, hiding himself as a Scottish Drag Queen, I’m sure he’ll even approve. I was laughing so hard, tears were coming out of my eyes. Only two Fringe shows that I’ve seen succeeded in having me do that. And who knows what else will come as Fringe hits its mid-week stride. There’s plenty of comedies to check out this year, and I’m sure Dirk Darrow will be out in force to solve the mystery of what will be the best Fringe show of this year.

5 Sleuths out of 5

Originally printed on 28DLA.com

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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 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 mind reading 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 [and when] this show will play next is even better.

 

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