Lockdown reviews: Strictly Sherlock

Jonathan Goodwin’s one-man play about the Great Detective – using two of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories – comes to Zoom and Facebook via the medium of a mobile phone and an internet connection. Theatre company Don’t Go Into The Cellar team up with MX Productions for this show.

Having being expected to continue on tour this year, this live perfornance reaches a couple of hundred people across the world in one evening and brings Holmes into our living rooms.

Goodwin – who also writes, and co-directs with Gary Archer – has more than a touch of uber Sherlock portrayer Jeremy Brett about him, but he is also a master storyteller, bringing each character to sharp relief with careful use of distinctive mannerisms.

Jonathan Goodwin as Holmes
Jonathan Goodwin as Holmes

With a small amount of props relevant to a life of curiosity and crime, and a velvet curtain to add a touch of theatricality, Goodwin’s play holds the attention throughout, and I imagine live audiences will be equally in thrall of the detective and his “friend Watson” and cast of characters.

An interlude discussing an acquaintance with Oscar Wilde through their “shared love of exotic fiction” is useful to segue from The Sussex Vampire into The Creeping Man by way of an allusion to Charles Augustus Milverton and Monty Python’s Wilde sketch (“I wish I’d said that”/”Don’t worry, you will”).

Sensationalist fiction of this type requires a hint of high camp and true chills, and Goodwin delivers both with an understanding of the stories he brings to life. He pushes his character fully through the pages of the Strand Magazine and becomes his own creation: masterly, melancholic and just a bit mercenary.

Jonathan Goodwin as Holmes
Jonathan Goodwin as Holmes

This is an enjoyable performance, filmed without any flashy tricks, but one which allows Goodwin’s Holmes to engage in intimate conversation with his audience. It works very well indeed, as you feel it is almost a performance geared for one viewer alone, and you feel you are really in the room with the man himself.

A brilliant diversion for Conan Doyle’s birthday weekend, created with care, and highly recommended.

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