Brighton FringeFeaturedReviewSouth East

BRIGHTON FRINGE: Sherlock’s Excellent Adventure – The Warren: The Oilshed

Reviewer: Simon Topping 

By: Our Star Theatre Company 

Director: Ben Mowbray 

Dr Watson enters the stage to declare that the story we are about to see is an unpublished case involving his closest friend, Mr Sherlock Holmes.  From here the audience are taken on a wacky farcical adventure, which has the venue laughing and delighting in moments of silliness. 

Mr Holmes’ new client is the swoonsome Miss Lucy Matravers; a damsel in distress who immediately catches the appreciative eye of Dr Watson.  Miss Matravers mother has sadly died and she fears that she will be disinherited by her evil uncle, the villainous rogue Professor Moriarty.  Will Holmes be able to locate the will that ensures Miss Matravers fortune and will John Watson be able to woo the girl?  The crowd is about to find out. 

Parodies of Sherlock Holmes have mixed results. They can soar like a golden eagle, such as the wonderful film Without a Clue, starring Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley, or crash on hard ice like “Eddie the Eagle”, such as the heinous Will Ferrell comedy project, Holmes and Watson, co-starring John C Reilly.  Creatives tread a fine line with such a well loved fictional character.  Thankfully Sherlock’s Excellent Adventure, developed and performed by the Herefordshire based, Our Star Theatre Company, is a piece that is suitably silly, often hitting the mark and solidly played by the company.

Ben Mowbray, as Holmes, plays the role with a joyful spring in his step, as does Daniel Davis as Watson.  They often break the fourth wall, with audience participation and narrative asides and have a good and easy rapport with each other. Breaking into song now and again, like a 21st century Flanders and Swann, the crowd warm to their performance and laugh freely at parts of the show.  

Ava Weetman, as Miss Matravers, adds to the show well and has a goofball zaniness about her. 

The fourth actor completing the company, Rhys Harris-Clarke, plays an interesting grotesque version of Mrs Hudson, the housekeeper; in one scene pretending to be drunk to glorious effect.  As Professor Moriarty he channels the spirit of Broadway star Nathan Lane and gleefully “hams it up”. 

Lovely flourishes from each performer raise laughter; Holmes using a magnifying glass without the glass in and his use of a bubble pipe are nice touches. The scene changes are very funny, especially when they change to and from a graveyard location. 

The story itself doesn’t have much to it and the denouement is rather ludicrous, but as this is a farce, the nonsensical plot seems to be fitting. 

Sometimes the pacing of the piece drops a little and the show veers off into unnecessary sub plots and reveals.  However, this is nothing that a tighter and shorter script couldn’t rectify. 

All in all the play is well performed and emanates both an equal measure of joy and daftness, which leaves a smile on the faces of the gathering as the show comes to an end.

Reviewed on 3rd June  

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