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Sherlock Holmes: A Working Hypothesis

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After successive reinventions as a muscular, action-hero type Guy Ritchie’s two films and as a present day otherworldly genius the BBC’s series, starring Benedict Cumberbatch comes this interactive take on Holmes.

The Flanagan Collective has opted for a story which engages the audience’s grey matter as much as the heart in a drama which unfolds amid the lecture hall seating of York’s Guildhall.

But this isn’t a traditional, 19th century take on the detective. Instead, it is 1963 – Holmes has been gone for three years, after supposedly plunging to his death from the Reichenbach Falls. And we have come to listen to a talk by the eminent professor of criminology, Selohm Socklehr, about the late detective’s brilliance.

Except we haven’t. The limping Socklehr – a comedy German with an explosive temper and a walking stick he’s apt to jab for emphasis – is Holmes Dominic Allen in disguise, the first twist in what proves a thrilling reunion with his sidekick, Watson George Williams.

Alexander Wright has crafted a story about friendship with this new take on Holmes, and the duo’s showdown with Moriarty.

While the first half’s interactive elements, which sees the audience drawn into solving puzzles with Holmes on an overheard projector, sag at points – I found it dragged me out of, rather into the story – it builds into a genuinely creepy thriller. Professor Moriarty, you see, is somewhere in the room.

Allen is a most convincing Holmes, sharp in his repartee with the audience, restlessly questioning and apt to a heated burst on the violin in an adjoining room. His relationship with Watson, a sweet, rather put-upon role by Williams, is the drive of the story, rather than Holmes’s forensic brilliance.

Sherlock Holmes – A Working Hypothesis at York Theatre Royal Council Chamber, Guildhall venue

  • The Guildhall, York
  • August 11-September 21
  • Author: Alexander Wright
  • Director: Tom Bellerby
  • Design: Jane Stonestreet costume/props
  • Technical: Liam Evans-Ford fight director, Jane Veysey show manager
  • Cast: Dominic Allen, George Williams
  • Producers: Brian Hook, The Flanagan Collective, Hartshorn-Hook Productions, York Theatre Royal
  • Running time: 2hrs 10mins
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The Stage
The Stage is a British weekly newspaper and website covering the entertainment industry, and particularly theatre. It was founded in 1880. It contains news, reviews, opinion, features, and recruitment advertising.
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