221B Baker Street. Sherlock Holmes is going mad with boredom as every thief, villain and mastermind in Britain seems to be on hiatus. To make matters worse, he might have just killed his only prospective client. This satirical take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation propels Holmes and Watson (along with a host of supporting characters, both new and familiar) into, quite possibly, the strangest case of their careers. While this is enjoyable for the most part, it is held back by predictable plot twists and an unhappy marriage of genres.
From its outset, the Accidental Adventures of Sherlock Holmes tries to balance the comic effect of a parody with the thrilling intrigue of a Holmes adventure. The funniest moments of the play ensue when the actors give in to its truly farcical nature. Watch out for the brilliant combination of miming and sound effects at the start, the diverse skill set of the three actors, who deftly play around ten characters between them and Doctor Watson’s fevered encounter with the ‘Shoeshine and Razor Blades’ salesman.
That said, the clunky exposition fails to make the play particularly thrilling. The plot twists – initially quite clever – pull the play back into the realm of trying to take Sherlock too seriously. At these points, the over-the-top acting starts to look misplaced. With the introduction of a metafiction subplot, the play teeters on the edge of becoming a Stoppardian comedy. Sadly, it is also pulled back by another plot twist which is never fully realised. With only an hour’s runtime, it simply tries to do too many things.
Nevertheless, the satisfying payoff at the end and the often witty dialogue make this play an enjoyable experience. The gender fluid casting of the great detective himself, and many of the supporting roles is an inspired choice. This allows for a unique take on the character and is a good catalyst for some of the funnier moments. Ultimately, it is a well-acted, fun performance that is guaranteed to make you laugh. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and would make a great outing for families with older kids.
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