If you’re going to pay homage to Victorian music hall culture in 2013, how better to do so than with someone as popular now as he was back then? That’s precisely what young theatre company Morphic Graffiti has done in this follow up to its well received 2012 debut ‘Jekyll and Hyde’.
Set in 1898, between author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killing off Sherlock Holmes at the Reichenbach Falls and reluctantly resurrecting the character by popular demand, Leslie Bricusse’s musical is presented as a morsel chucked to audiences ravenous for more of the great detective. Holmes is alive! But what of his great nemesis, Professor Moriarty?
The joy of Luke Fredericks’s production is in the detail, from the audience banter to the puppetry, magic tricks, purpose-built proscenium arch and cardboard cut-out scenery. Played across every level of the atmospheric, authentically Victorian Hoxton Hall, it beautifully evokes entertainment from a different era.
So, it’s a shame that – barring a nice pre-interval twist – the single story to which all of this is pegged is so flimsy. There are some fun songs, but much of the bum-numbing three-hour run-time feels like filler, stretched even thinner by the numerous variety-style interludes.
Nonetheless, there’s much to enjoy, from Amanda Goldthorpe-Hall’s brilliantly hammy opera singer to a hilarious Stephen Leask ad-libbing effortlessly as the hapless Inspector Lestrade. Tim Walton’s disappointingly bland Holmes may be the name in lights, but Leask is the star of this show. Tom Wicker