‘An Evening with Sherlock Holmes’ is an anthology which is played over forty years. The first two plays are by Conan Doyle, the third is by Jules Tasca’s but has been based on Doyle’s 1890 characters. Tasca was a lecturer in playwrighting at Oxford and is the author of more than 125 plays, most have been internationally produced. He has also written for radio and television, mainly adapting the works of famous writers, ranging from Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Chekhov and Aristophanes’. He wrote the words for C.S. Lewis’ ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – The Musical’.
Always looking for something new, developed ‘Eurhythmy’ a system of movement, language, music and sound.
The Guinness World Records lists Sherlock Holmes as the ‘most-portrayed movie character’ in history.
This 90-minute triad of intertwined mysteries can be seen at The Limelight Theatre, Civic Drive, Wanneroo with curtain up at 8.00 each Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening until the 13th July. There is a matinée on Sunday 7th July at 2.00 pm, this being the 89th anniversary of Conan Doyle’s death.
The scene: Holmes flat in Baker Street, London around 1900
The set: Very impressive, thanks to the Tuesday Task Force (Wally Fry, Malcolm Hiscock, Patrick McLanaghan). The rear wall was mustard coloured with waist-high, dark wood panelling. One side of the stage had a black marble fireplace. The wing flats had pale striped wallpaper (Robert Vincent). There were two tan leather, Claverdon armchairs and a coffee table. The other side of the room was the dining area, with mahogany chairs and table. The props were amazing (Lorretta Gibbs and cast); they included bookshelves, a table with chemistry equipment, various telephones, a marble, French antique mantle clock, lace tablecloths and crystal wear. The numerous fine artworks were thanks to Carol Keppler.
Eye catching poster design by Jen Edwards.
The stage manager, Julie Clark and her stage crew of Lorraine Jones and Debra Anderson were kept very busy, especially in the third play. The crew all wore the standard black outfits but with white masks, becoming part of the mysterious circumstances.
Wally Fry’s quality lighting design was smoothly operated by Holly Powell.
Soundscape worked well, thanks to Richard Tudge and Paul King.
The main characters, who appeared in all three plays were Sherlock Holmes (Mark Fitzpatrick – captured the aloof attitude, very well), Dr Watson (Philip Bedworth – perfect) and Mrs Hudson (Christine Smith – delightful, assured). A strong trio who had the task of acting their parts and guiding some actors through theirs. Well done.
Incidentally, 2/6d is called ‘half a crown’, or ‘two and six’.
THE ADVENTURE OF THE NOBLE BACHELOR (original storyline by Conan Doyle was called ‘The Noble-Man’). Set in 1890. Performance 25 minutes.
Holmes is hired by the elderly Sir Robert St Simon (Roger Oakes), an impoverished British aristocrat. Sir Robert has just married a very young American millionairess, Hatty Doran (Frederica Longo). However, towards the end of their wedding ceremony, his wife disappears. For Sherlock Holmes the mystery is elementary, no need for help from Inspector Lestrade (Jared Rix) or even an explanation from Frances Moulton (Matthew Winter).
THE MILVERTON ADVENTURE (storyline by Conan Doyle) set in 1910. Performance 10 minutes, then the Interval, followed by a further 10 minutes.
One of Holmes’ clients (Sandra Powell) is about to marry the Earl of Dovercourt, when she learns that several sensitive letters that she sent to a former lover were now in the hands of a blackmailer, Mr Milverton (Peter Roberts). Can Sherlock get these documents back?
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ADAM (story by Tasca) Set in 1930. Performance 25 minutes.
The storyline is quite fascinating.
Dr Watson is enjoying an evening with Holmes. Sherlock is playing his violin and Watson is struggling to recognise the tune. Seconds later, he has trouble remembering even basic information. As they talk, the mysterious stage crew move in and remove various props. When a lady called Evelyn Meekly (Shelley McGinn) calls to report that her son has not returned to their hotel. A few phone calls to the lady’s hotel and police, the confusion become even worse.
The best story of the set. Very different.
Costumes were by Joan Braskic and included an Inverness cape-cloak (beautifully tailored), deerstalker cap, calabash pipe (the bowl is made from a dried South American pumpkin gourd – a calabash) and magnifying glass. The outfits ranged from a long, peach silk dress to a toggle-fastening, tapestry smoking jacket. Each costume was perfectly fitted and finished with well-chosen accessories.
Sadly, this fairly simple show was badly under rehearsed. It is many months since I heard a prompt, there were four actors prompted, one several times. When the director, who is playing a minor part requires two prompts but does not get them, then something is wrong. A real shame. In the Interval I heard quite a few of the audience mentioning the lack of vocal projection, which I did not find too bad until in the second Act when the heavens opened and the noise from the roof was terrible (I know it is an act of God and not the production); even then the actors did not increase the volume and passages were lost.
The Director, Shelley McGinn has had a five-year break and I suspect found the whole thing a little too much or difficult to get back into, as I know she has done so well in the past.
Try your Holmes deduction skills. I have put into this review a clue and the answer to the third play.
Sorry, the show had everything going for it, great costumes, super set and first class teching, but disappointing.