Development Diaries: Great Detectives of Old Time Radio Live

Benjamin Maio Mackay gives us the inside scoop on his upcoming Sydney Fringe Show, Great Detectives of Old Time Radio Live

The cast (left-right) Eden Trebilco, Benjamin Maio Mackay, Jennifer Barry and Julia Sciacca in rehearsal for the upcoming tour.

The cast (left-right) Eden Trebilco, Benjamin Maio Mackay, Jennifer Barry and Julia Sciacca in rehearsal for the upcoming tour.

The idea for this show first occurred to me back in 2013 while I was listening to some original versions of 1950s radio shows, presented as podcasts. That was when inspiration struck, these stories, in the public domain, were not only dramatic and mysterious - but funny. For me that was one of the first major selling points, this mix of comedy, mystery and intrigue is a recipe for the perfect evening at the theatre - it’s everything somebody could want from a show. 

I spent months researching all the different radio dramas that were on in the 1950s and while there are a wealth of good shows, only a couple were great. That’s how I came across Candy Matson and Yours Truly Johnny Dollar. Then due to various other projects I sidelined the show, but when I was looking for something to produce in the 2015 Adelaide Fringe I decided Great Detectives of Old Time Radio Live was the one. The show was received very well in Adelaide, by audience and critics alike - but in this original version the comedy was lacking.

The project came resurfaced in my mind early this year (2016) after some discussion about potential shows to perform in Sydney. A revised, more comical version of this show made perfect sense, not only for Sydney, but to bring around Australia - which is how the 9 city national tour eventuated. 

With these details beginning to be locked in I started re-writing, so what will open in the Sydney Fringe Festival is a completely revised version of the show. The humour flows in abundance, while not compromising the mystery and intrigue - and the whole show is also historically accurate. This is one show that I can truly say people of all ages will enjoy. 

The icing on the cake with this show is the incredible cast - in addition to our leads Julia Sciacca, Eden Trebilco and Jennifer Barry, (and me), we are being joined by a range of celebrities who’ll cameo in the show each night. It’s a night of mystery, comedy and intrigue, and personally I can’t wait to see you there.