Preachrs Podcast OnStage chose the perfect venue for Great Detectives of Old Time Radio LIVE... like the three radio plays (Dragnet, Candy Matson and Yours Truly Johnny Dollar) that made up the show, the Capri Theatre was built in the 1940's, so it just felt right.
And the cast were all dressed appropriately for the era... well more or less anyway. I'm always intrigued with theatre when the performers are already on stage when the audience comes in, and with this show they behaved like they were on the set of one of the original radio productions... drinking tea (or possibly something a little stronger from a flask), sitting around a table until it was their turn at the microphone and having little conversations or smiles between themselves.
First up was Dragnet... "based on actual cases and transcribed from police reports". Tonally, this was the odd duck of the three plays, given that it was based on real events it wasn't anywhere near as over the top and campy as the others. But it was brilliantly done, if a tiny bit grim given the theme of child abandonment.
The only real complaint that I had is that Benjamin Maio Mackay playing the role of Joe Friday was a little difficult to understand at times, mostly due to Mackay making his voice fairly gruff and also possibly speaking too closely to the microphone... although weirdly there wasn't an issue with characters he played later in the show (maybe because he was using the other microphone though). But having said that, Mackay had the hardboiled detective thing pretty much locked in with all three characters he played.
Next up was Candy Matson, "one of the only female investigators of the time". This was where Julia Sciacca really shone as the titular investigator. The Matson stories feel like they'd all be somewhat campy and stylistically in a slightly similar vein to The Thin Man movies (it's what this one reminded me of anyway). It's all plucky girl detective, a clearly gay (in a 1940's way) offsider (played brilliantly by Eden Trebilco, who really did act up a storm through all of the pieces), Russian bad guys and people being hit on the head.
I'd say that this was my favourite of the three to be honest, mostly due to Sciacca's performance, but also due to the whole plucky girl detective thing.
Last, and by no means least was Yours Truly Johnny Dollar... "based around the action packed expense account of Johnny Dollar private insurance investigator". With Trebilco in the lead, but playing it much more butch than he did in the Candy Matson piece, this was the most over the top of the three plays. But Trebilco really made it work, plus he's a natural showman.
For me, the stand-out member of the supporting cast was clearly Jennifer Barry... she played a number of kids, a couple of male roles and an old lady, all the while doing different voices and often with what sounded like a perfect Brooklyn style accent.
It was a lovely way to spend 85 minutes (and it certainly didn't hurt that it was out of the heat) and now I definitely want to delve further into the world of Candy Matson, Yukon 2-8209!