Having been a Sherlockian since around 1970, and having written my own Holmes murder mystery (watch this space for details), I eagerly planned to see Sherlock Holmes the Last Act. Wasn't quite sure what to expect.
In truth this proved a solo show in which an aging Holmes has just returned from the funeral of Dr. John Watson, his one true friend. Holmes (Nigel Miles-Thomas) at this point seems very much the powerful mind and piercing figure he has always been. But not so, not really. He finds himself diving, or perhaps falling into memories of his days as the Great Consulting Detective. Again and again he recreates the moment he met Watson. ("I perceive you have been to Afghanistan") Eventually his memories take him further and deeper. Into un-charted territory, or at least un-chronicled. Things Watson never knew...
Writer David Stuart Davies does a very fine job of weaving the Holmes we know with what we don't know, but might have been. Much of what he comes up with accounts for several patterns in the Great Detective's life, not least perhaps his need for stimulation, his distrust of women coupled with his strong desire to protect them, his craving for what he called "excitement" but comes across (in this work, anyway) as distraction, his willingness to let certain criminals simply go free.
More, and this is praise for both actor and writer as well as director Gareth Armstrong, all this emerges in a way I don't think anyone needs much familiarity with the books and stories to appreciate the story. Lacking the time that folks like Benedict Cumberbatch, Jeremy Brett, Basil Rathbone (to name a very, very few) had to work with the character, Miles-Thomas admirably bring Holmes to life. More, I get nice glimpses of the other people in his life, including Watson (of course) and his father.
I do think the pacing feels a bit rushed, but then the Fringe only gave this show a 60 minute slot (in practice this means more like 55 minutes or less). I feel it probably needs 65, maybe 70 full minutes to let everything sink in.
Sherlock Homes The Last Act plays at the Broadwater Second Stage, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038 three more shows as of this writing:
- Wednesday June 21 2023, 8:00 PM
- Friday June 23 2023, 9:00 PM
- Saturday June 24 2023, 7:00 PM