William Banfield on a train in Accidental Humour Co.'s "The Flying Detective." // Courtesy of Accidental Humour Co.

Fringe review: The Flying Detective

The Flying Detective
Directed by Taylor Chadwick; Accidental Humour Co.; Westbury Theatre; until Fri., Aug. 23.
Our Score
4.5

By Miya Abe

Accidental Humour Co. is known for its unique and thrilling melding of video and theatre and is back with its ambitious historical aviation adventure epic, The Flying Detective, a fast-paced tour de force that is based on local history.

It would be impossible to talk about The Flying Detective without lauding its crew. Brent Felzien’s video elements help the show transcend the limitations of live theatre. Director Taylor Chadwick and Felzien work together to streamline the live acting with the video so seamlessly and creatively, there is always something interesting to look at and watching the actors interact with video props is perfectly executed. The airplane though, is the unsung hero of the show. When it first appears on stage, it draws a collective gasp from the audience. When it takes off, everyone whoops and cheers. Cliff Kelly designed the set and props, and he should be very proud of the impressive work he did here. 

While the visuals and props usurp the story just a little, it is certainly a story worth hearing. It is 1919, and Constable Nixon of the Edmonton Police Service is killed in the line of duty. His former partner, Detective Campbell, is tracking the suspect but running out of time. Thanks to chipper pilot “Wop” May, played with wit and charm by William Banfield, who is just literally and figuratively getting his airplanes off the ground, Campbell is able to fly out to Edson, the killer’s last known whereabouts, in mere hours. Campbell is a maverick, so being forced to work with the jolly May generates big laughs. Unbeknownst to him though, he needs May for more than just his airplane. 

Accidental Humour delivers a production that is funny, exciting, and just really, really cool to watch, and unequivocally proves that learning about local history is fun.

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