Tim Motley has combined magic, film noir and comedy in Dirk Darrow: NCSSI (Not Completely Serious Supernatural Investigator), and it’s no mystery why this show was one of the strongest at this year’s Fringe.
Motley, dressed as a 1940s-era gumshoe, complete with fedora, swaggers across the stage as a stereotypical detective voiceover plays. Motley impresses with his balance of old-school cockiness and self-deprecation, hitting perfect notes of humour. Dirk Darrow: NCSSI begins with an overuse of puns, but it’s all part of Motley’s shtick; he plays the capable-but-graceless detective with panache.
The premise of the show is that there has been a murder (bum, bum bum), and Dirk Darrow knows that the murderer is someone in the audience. As any good detective does, he must answer some questions first: who, what, when, where, why and how? This is where the impressive prop magic comes in. Motley uses this magic to discover the time of the murder. With three sealed envelopes of evidence, he has a woman spin the hands on a watch, asks what time the hands stopped at and opens an envelope to reveal the exact time the woman wound to.
Dirk Darrow: NCSSI is a full-participation show. The audience must say the obligatory “bum, bum, bum” every time murder is mentioned, and no one in the audience is safe. Motley constantly reaches into the audience to grab an assistant, or even a line-up of suspects. Although audience members shouting out during performances at The Fringe is not usually encouraged, Motley welcomes it and is quick-witted enough to fold it into the show and respond in character.
Dirk Darrow: NCSSI has been a highlight of the Victoria Fringe. With Motley’s charm and skill, it’s obvious why it has sold out each night.