What happens when you cross A Christmas Carol with Sherlock Holmes in The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle and add a murder mystery and a love interest (Rosie Armstrong) from the past?
Writer/director Mark Shanahan might just have the answer in this UK premiere for the festive season. Moriarty has been dead for three years, and a nervous Holmes (Ben Caplan) is down in the dumps and close to a breakdown.
Enter Dr Timothy Cratchit (Damian Lynch), formerly the ‘Tiny Tim’ of the classic tale of redemption, with a case for the Great Detective to solve. There’s been a mysterious death, a lost will, and a stolen jewel.
Fusing the best of Dickens and Doyle with some amusing and over-ripe perfornances, the six-strong cast (four in multiple roles) add moments of fidelity and farce to both stories.
There’s a housekeeper (Richard James, also Watson) who surely has a pantomime dame within, a scrawny child (Gemma Laurie) right out of the “all right, guv’nor” school, and a Scrooge (Kammy Darweish) brimming with bonhomie.
Although A Sherlock Carol could stretch to a bit more seasonal hilarity, it is cleverly done and beautifully portrayed. A cross between improv, homage and parody, it is a theatricsl treat.
I especially liked Watson’s childhood recollection and the grudging deduction skills of Holmes and his unlikely intellectual match. A show of the improbable and the elementary, indeed.
A nicely lit London skyline (Rui Rita lighting, Anna Louizos set) makes to focus where we are, and minimal props add to the light treatment of the perennial tale of a man finding his life’s purpose.
You may need to know the original tales to fully enjoy the plot and the original lines peppered through the script, but in the unlikely event that you don’t, you’ll still have fun.
You can watch A Sherlock Carol at the Marylebone Theatre until 7 January. Buy your tickets here.
Image credit: Danny Kaan