Adaptation Discussion · Play Reviews

The Adventures of the Improvised Sherlock Holmes- Play Review

Written by Jim Clelland (@UrbanSpaceman64)

Sherlock Holmes is one of the most enduring figures of my life. Not one year has passed since I first discovered Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation that I have not read, watched or listened to something related to The Great Detective.

His knowledge is extraordinary. His brain power is legendary. His skills are unique. His history is slightly mysterious. Apart from his brother and some distant relative of a French painter, we know very little about his family life. There have been many incarnations of Holmes over the years, some brilliant, some good, some not so good and some downright mystifying in the choice of actor playing him.

The stories are engaging, enthralling and entertaining, with endings that can be surprising. Holmes encounters every aspect of humanity and society, from the lowest to the highest and everyone in between, be they prince, pauper, conman, King, Queen or improvised performer. Speaking of improvised performers…

Since I first saw The Adventures of the Improvised Sherlock Holmes some years ago at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, I have enjoyed every show I have attended. The great thing about every show is that every show is different. Obviously. There’s a lot of improvising.

The performance usually opens with a sparse stage setting, a couple of chairs, a coat-stand and a carpet. This can represent a private club, a train carriage, a library, etc. On the larger of the chairs, apparently asleep is a figure wrapped up in heavy clothing. Another figure enters the scene. A conversation begins as the visitor recognises Dr Watson and the mention of previous adventures arises. These previous adventures are selected from a container, hat, bucket or other receptacle and are some of the suggestions made by the audience before the show begins. At a certain point the final title is chosen and “the game’s afoot” …

The concept is simple, the cast (which varies anywhere between two and four) take the adventure title, they then incorporate the title into the show with some interesting, funny, unpredictable and downright bizarre results. The hour passes by very quickly. Well, they do say time flies when you’re having fun. So, what happens during the show? A lot of improvisation. Often the cast seem surprised by what their fellow cast members are saying and doing. They are having fun, and as a result so are we. I can say from the last performance I saw; I now know more about the differences in technique of the French, German and Italian window licker, (don’t ask) and some aspects of the Franco-Prussian War. Of course, you may learn something different.

Please go along and see these highly entertaining performers and this highly entraining show. It really is a lot of fun. I must go now as Mrs Hudson has made me some tea and toast for breakfast, and I would hate for it to get cold.


For more Sherlockian theatre reviews and other literature fancies, subscribe to The Baskerville Pups. Articles shall be published every week for the holiday season. Cheerio!

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