Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure
By Steven Dietz, based on the original 1899 play by William Gillette and Arthur Conan Doyle
Directed by Marci Kash
Performed by Steven Sutcliffe, Clive Walton et al
Grand Theatre, London
February 15 to March 5, 2011
Reviewed by Mary Alderson
Elementary, My Dear Watson
Fans of the great Sherlock Holmes will enjoy seeing him come to life on stage at London’s Grand Theatre. The script is faithful to the tradition, combining two of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories: The King of Bohemia comes to him with a request, and his conflict with the evil Professor Moriarty continues.
As the show opens, Holmes has summoned his sidekick Watson to Baker Street. We are immediately impressed with Holmes’ amazing powers of observation. He is able to deduce with great accuracy just what Watson has been doing, without Watson’s having to reveal anything. It’s CSI for the 1800s.
The King of Bohemia is about to marry, but first he needs to remove all evidence of his dalliance with Irene Adler, a popular opera diva. The King is seeking Holmes’ help to retrieve a photo from Miss Adler that could compromise his future wedding. In the meantime, Holmes is in great fear of his nemesis, the sinister Moriarty. The two plots are interwoven and Holmes solicits Dr. Watson help in setting intricate traps.
The set is outstanding from the moment it opens with a lamppost shrouded in London fog. A rotating stage allows us to see the very realistic exteriors and interiors of several buildings from England to Switzerland. The lighting is also well done, with mysterious shadows and total blackouts. Costumes are good, with Holmes appearing in his familiar overcoat, and his famous “before & aft” hat.
Steven Sutcliffe is excellent as Sherlock Holmes. He has a good sense of comedic timing and is able to convey Holmes’ confidence, keeping the audience engrossed.
Clive Walton as Watson is also the narrator. On opening night he seemed a little unsure of himself in Act I, but found his pace in Act II. Stepping in and out of the action to speak directly to the audience is a difficult role, and Walton rises to the task.
Cliff Saunders is outstanding as the shyster Sid Prince, working as Moriarty’s point man to carry out the sinister plans. His engaging Cockney accent and use of comedy make him the focal point whenever he is on stage.
Thomas Marriott is pure evil and frightening as Professor Moriarty, while Peter Krantz gives a good performance as the offbeat King of Bohemia. Cameron MacDuffee as James Larrabee and Marilla Wex as his sister Madge Larrabee carry out twists in the plot. Ieva Lucs plays Irene Adler: she is both the King’s love interest and also attracts Holmes’ attention. Unfortunately, she seems cold, and although she is described as a diva, she doesn’t seem to have the confident attitude or charisma that is usually associated with singing stars. It’s difficult to see why Holmes might be smitten with her.
If you’re a fan of the great detective, you will enjoy the twists and turns in this stage production. The Grand has very effectively brought to life the popular sleuth. In fact, director Marcia Kash says that she found so much detailed information about Sherlock Holmes, she had to remind herself that he is a fictional character. To her credit, she is able to convince the audience of Holmes’ reality.
Sherlock Holmes continues at the Grand Theatre in London until March 5. Tickets are available at the Grand box office at 519-672-8800 or 1-800-265-1593, or visit www.grandtheatre.com