Review: Dexter and Winter's Detective Agency (Roundabout Summerhall, Edinburgh)
Rastamouse TV writer Nathan Byron's new play opens at the Edinburgh Fringe
Nathan Bryon's new show for kids, running at the Edinburgh Fringe's Roundabout stage this year, is a veritable whodunnit adventure. Likely to engross most of the family, the piece follows what happens when Dexter's mum gets caught by the cops and accused of a diamond theft. When no one else seems to be helping, Dexter and his best friend Winter decide they are going to crack the case.
Performed by only three, an entire world of voices come alive in Stef O'Driscoll's production. Relying on Toyin Omari-Kinch and Charlotte O'Leary's high-octane energy and Charlotte Bate's ability to swap characters in the blink of an eye without the help of props and few costumes, the show is a hectic, turbo-charged experience. And it has the sort of satisfaction levels of Stranger Things in the way the kids solve the question of who really did pull off the heist.
Bryon's characters are also a breath of fresh air, with two single parents looking after the kids themselves, and having Dexter and Winter as Stormzy-loving and outspoken. Although, of course, they know when not to cross the naughtiness line.
And the discovery that (spoiler alert!) Dexter's mum was in fact involved in the robbery is also a nice twist. But the way it is wrapped up – all upbeat simplicity – is a little jarring. It's good to get kids seeing flawed characters, but the happy ending message feels a little contrived.
Still, the performances are so committed that it's hard to be mealy-mouthed about the show. Omari-Kinch works exceptionally hard as the open-faced and well-meaning Dexter and O'Leary's naughtiness as Winter is a hoot. But it's Bate's astonishingly quick-fire changes that steal the show; you barely notice it's the same performer playing each role.
Dexter and Winter's Detective Agency is short, with punch, and ultimately ends up being slightly too sickly sweet. But kids and adults alike will find much to enjoy in this very enjoyable hour.