Sherlock Holmes is possibly the most enduring character in all of fiction, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the late 19th century, first published in 1886 with ‘A study in scarlet.’
With a number of other releases following due to its popularity, before continuing as a series of publications in The Strand of London Sherlock using his astute eye of observation, logic and his ingenuity to solve crimes and mysteries. Equally as revered is his faithful companion, Dr Watson. The publications wrote from the Doctors perspective, casting his mind back together as the epoch crime-solving duo. Through more than a hundred years of adventures reinventing and new original stories has kept the consulting detective; a relevant part of British pop culture. Sherlock Holmes: The Final Curtain, from the mind of Simon Reade brings us to the year 1922. Thankfully not a deerstalker in sight.
An aging Sherlock (Robert Powell), away from the familiar London has retired to the life of a quiet bee-keeper. A death on his private stretch of beach brings new purpose to his life and also unwittingly becomes the chief suspect. Haunted by the shadow of nemesis’ Professor Moriarty last words. The return of Watson’s estranged wife, Mary (Liza Goddard) with a claim of Baker St being haunted by her and Johns son. Can he muster his skills in a world where technology is changing and his body is failing?
Robert Powell and Liza Goddards veteran performances interplay very well off one another, with a delicate level of respect with sharp words, full of concealed confident intent. Mrs Watson, initially a shadowy minor character featured in the shorts. Is fleshed out much further into a fully fledged part of the mythos as the beeb show did also. Liza brings a real presence of tension to her scenes, that keeps the audience engaged. Robert captures some of Sherlock, yet there was something I couldn’t quite put my finger on, not until I caught myself looking in the mirror when I got home. The narcissism of Holmes. His narcissism, we are reminded of frequently by Mary and Mycroft. Wasn’t quite there to be seen. Almost, but not quite. More the script, than a lack of performance. The complex interpersonal struggle is well written in parts, a bit cliche in others.
The charm of the direct respectable nature of the early 20s dialogue evident by the plucky supporting performance from Anna O’Grady as Miss Hudson. Roy Sampson was like a duck to water with his stern commanding sharpness, that he brings to his roles, was a sure fit for Mycroft Holmes. A particular scene where they meet in St James Park, sat besides one another on the bench. Was a greatly directed scene, conveying so many emotions and multilayered character facets. Despite being the centre of the show, whom the events were happening around. Dr Watson played to be charming sincere by Timothy Kightley felt like a second tier character. Whose absence for a majority of the second act feels like a missed opportunity.
The final curtain as the title implies is also relative part of the progression of the story, transitions between scenes innovatively created by the movement across the stage of a curtain. Being a theatre attending regular, utterly surprised haven’t seen this technique used before now!
Sherlock Holmes: The Final Curtain has a quality arching back to the radio plays of Rathbone and Bruce. Dare say some expected a faster paced action narrative, as evidenced by a number of seats becoming disappointingly vacant in the second act. They missed out on a thrilling reveal and conclusion. A make the crowd pop use of special effects and theatre trickery from the age of spiritualism. Table levitation!
Overall it’s a really good production. An intriguing set-up. A series of interpersonal conflicts leading to a thrilling conclusion. The go-home final monologue of Mary was delivered exceptionally. Would like to see more from the Theatre Royal Bath productions, utilizing the full range of Powell and Kightley.
Sherlock Holmes: The final curtain is running at Theatre Royal, Nottingham until the Saturday 9th Jun.
Be sure to book your tickets
Visit TRCH.co.uk or the box office