Canadian history in motion: The Flying Detective, a guest Fringe review by Alan Kellogg

The Flying Detective, Accidental Humour Co. at Edmonton Fringe 2019.

The Flying Detective (Venue 1, Westbury Theatre)

By Alan Kellogg

If there is a downside to Fringelandia, it is that economics, time and generally good sense militate against staging lavish productions, although inventive set design can spring from the most modest materials.

Well, thanks to the producing Edson & District Historical Society and a long list of sponsors, here is a bona fide production directed by Taylor Chadwick and worthy of any mainline professional regional theatre company season — complete with exceptional filmed sequences and impressive (!) props. In the latter case, I’ll leave it to you to witness the showstopper, a local take on Miss Saigon, if you will.

Yes, the provenance here might indicate to some a 90-minute of turgid, if well-intentioned, good-for-you CanLit historical fiction. But the good news here is that Brent Felzien’s The Flying Detective, if based on a true local story (with embellishments) is a lot of fun, and very easy on the eyes and spirit.

It involves the 1919 murder of an Edmonton constable, and the pursuit of his killer by an obsessed, dour Socttish-Canadian detective, one James Campbell (Cody Porter). In the trek to Edson, he’s joined by the celebrated war hero and aviation pioneer Wilfred “Wop” May (William Banfield) who is about to revolutionize transportation in Western Canada.

We’re engaged with the chase to find the grizzled killer, who escapes for a time before he meets his destiny. The filmed visuals are terrific.

Yep, there are some glitches here, in dialogue, story exposition and performance, although Porter and Banfield acquit themselves well enough. That said, the packed Westbury crowd stood up as one at the end, which only goes to prove that Canadian history delivered by the right hands can be a well-loved story worth telling.

 

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