CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Review: Sherlock Holmes, The Final Curtain at Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre

PUBLISHED: 16:38 18 July 2018 | UPDATED: 16:38 18 July 2018

Sherlock Holmes, The Final Curtain

Sherlock Holmes, The Final Curtain

Archant

This new play, which features spiritualism, may well have theatres asking, “Is there anybody there?” Katie Jarvis worries

Interesting era, the Victorian.

For Victorians (I generalise), science was anathema and spiritualism was dope. Science, of course, put God in a two-horse race, with Evolution just nosing ahead. Or, to use a better analogy, Evolution made God appear like the mother at the school fete who’d bought a cake and tried to pass it off as homemade.

Spiritualism, on the other hand, was the QA test that religion passed. It not only proved there was an afterlife; it even had its phone number.

Enter Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: genius writer; genius thinker; genius inventor of genius thinker. When Sir Arthur pricked up his ears at strange knockings after dusk, ectoplasm pouring from mediums’ (media?) mouths, and even definitely-photographs-of-fairies-there’s-no-doubt-about-it, the sceptical Victorians (I did say I was generalising) raised their eyebrows so permanently high they became part of their hairline.

I’m on the fence on this scoffing at Sir Arthur.

On the one hand, it is odd that the creator of Sherlock – Debunker of Myths in Chief – should be taken in by trickery.

On the other, I’m minded of the Richard Dawkins anecdote in The God Delusion, where, at a Cambridge dinner, an anthropologist reported the Fang people’s belief that witches have an extra internal organ that flies away at night. A theologian in the audience remarked, “You have to explain how people can believe such nonsense.”

In other words, one could argue that spirituality is simply belief with high speed broadband.

So, if you haven’t already left to clean the floor or mow the grass (be honest: neither really needs doing in this weather), on to the Everyman’s latest production, Sherlock Holmes: The Final Curtain. The premise is that a world-weary Holmes now makes those annoying clicking noises people with arthritis tend to make when crossing rooms. (Playing the violin and golf are now but distant memories.) Not only that, but his dated ability to distinguish 140 different types of tobacco – vital when identifying ash left by a rogue – has been superseded by a rush of extra brands with which to kill yourself.

Sherlock Holmes, The Final Curtain (c) Nobby Clark PhotographerSherlock Holmes, The Final Curtain (c) Nobby Clark Photographer

When the body of a young woman is found on the private beach of the cottage where he is now living, memories of his arch enemy (wouldn’t you just love to have an arch-enemy! I merely have people who’d prefer not to invite me to dinner) flood back. Somehow, he feels, the dreaded Moriarty – who died alongside Sherlock (except he didn’t) at the Reichenbach Falls – has come back to haunt him.

Thus the cogs of the great mind begin to turn once again, only called into question by the detective’s decision to disguise himself as Sherlock Smith.

That sentence, in some ways, is at the hub of all this. Because what is this play? A comedy? A tragedy? A mystery? Beats me. Every time I thought it was resolving into one or the other, playwright Simon Reade seemed to change his mind. Like the conjuring up of spirits itself, you never really knew if you were going to get a wise doctor who died too early to fulfil his altruistic desires, or a Navajo Indian still fuming at the rubbish rifle he got in exchange for a perfectly good rug.

The good bits?

Well, it was heart-warming to see Robert Powell (as Sherlock) and Liza Goddard (as Watson’s estranged wife, Mary Don’t-call-me-Watson Watson).

“The particularly wonderful thing about Powell,” someone said to me, “is that you can hear every word he says.”

I agreed.

“Would you like to try a gin-and-tonic ice cream?” someone else said to me.

I agreed.

I had high hopes of the second half, buoyed by an ice cream that genuinely tasted like a G&T; but after a few promising twists, Simon Reade changed his mind again and decided not to be promising after all.

Look. If you want to see consummate actors and some very Victorian settings, this is for you. Otherwise, and I do feel bad saying this, my advice is to spend the night in a darkened room, in front of a table, asking, “Is anybody there?”

Sadly, that’s a question theatres may well be asking as the tour continues.

Sherlock Holmes, The Final Curtain: a new play by Simon Reade after Arthur Conan Doyle, will run until Saturday, July 21.

The Everyman Theatre is at Regent Street, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 1HQ, box office 01242 572573; everymantheatre.org.uk

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & about

Mon, 13:15

Tracy Spiers takes an impressive, if hypothetical, budget on a shopping spree in Cheltenham’s independent stores

Read more
Mon, 12:23

Get out and enjoy seasonal celebrations with a Cotswold twist

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Hundreds of participating National Lottery-funded visitor attractions across the UK are saying ‘thanks’ to people who have raised money for good causes by buying a lottery ticket, including a number of venues in the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, December 3, 2018

“We’re looking forward to lots of festive fun this Christmas festival and hope to welcome lots of people to our town.”

Read more
Monday, November 26, 2018

“Faringdon upholds old-fashioned values through its traditional shops, personal service and shop owners who go the extra mile to make their customers feel at home.”

Read more
Friday, November 23, 2018

Home to some of the country’s most breathtaking architecture and picturesque gardens, the Cotswolds boasts plenty of beautiful stately homes you need to visit. We pick eight special locations that are made even more magical during Christmas time

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Taking the classroom outdoors is fun, inspires fresh ideas, broadens horizons – and encourages a new generation to enjoy and care for the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, November 19, 2018

Chipping Campden – once the meeting place for a council of Saxon kings – now offers the warmest of welcomes to all its visitors, from the humble shopper to the seasonal shin-kicker

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Warwickshire town of Alcester is considered one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. Tracy Spiers digs below the surface to discover its hidden jewels

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I send this postcard from Cirencester, complete with the discoveries and viewpoints from four members of my family – both the young and not so young

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search