Adaptation Discussion · Play Reviews

Watson: The Final Problem- Play Review

Written by Jim Clelland

In August 2022 I had the privilege to attend Watson – The Final Problem, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The one person play was written by Bert Coules (known to many as the adapter and then author of numerous BBC radio Sherlock Holmes stories) and writer and actor Tim Marriott, and was directed by Bert Coules.

The stage setting was simple. A red leather chair, a small table, a coat stand, a writing desk and chair and a carpet, but that was enough to convey the rooms at St Barts Hospital, 221B Baker Street, the good doctor’s home or surgery. Mr Marriott (who I had the honour to chat to before the show) portrays Watson as an affable, friendly gentleman, but underneath there is pain and anguish brought to life as we experience some of the trauma that, as an army doctor, Watson saw in Afghanistan. We learn of his wounds and suffering and his efforts to integrate back into London society after returning from a brutal war. We hear of his encounter with Stamford, an old colleague  from his days as a medical student and his first encounter with Mr Sherlock Holmes. A meeting that will change his life forever.

Mr Marriott conveys every emotion, every nuance that we would expect from an actor of his experience and every word rings true. His transition from, with an inclination of his head, a movement of his mouth or eyes, a hand gesture, Watson to Holmes is simple but effective. He brings the characters to life.

By the end of the play (roughly an hour) you will be enthralled, engaged and moved. This is not just a play about loyalty and friendship between Holmes and Watson, it is a play about one man trying to overcome and live with the brutality of war, loss of love and friendship and getting on with life.

Yes, we know the story, yes we know the characters, but this play wonderfully brought to life those characters and events we know so well and added its own elements. If you get a chance to see it, I would most definitely recommend it. There are details of future performances at www.smokescreenprods.com/.

I would like to thank Mr Bert Coules and Mr Tim Marriott for allowing me to use images from the show. 

Watson: The Final Problem by @BertCoules and @Guv47 – Play Review written by @UrbanSpaceman64


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