Monday, February 4, 2013

A Nice Combination Makes a Balanced Sherlock

If I were to write a review about the Civic’s production of Sherlock: The Last Adventure I would write about the simplicity of the script itself compared with the elaborate tone of the other aspects of the show, such as the set, costumes, and acting. The writing and story was not very intricate and at times hard to follow.  Other aspects of the show, however, were elaborate and almost over-the-top. This combination created a distinct classic detective, who-dun-it story.

The set was extravagant. Each room had a very different feel, from Sherlock’s regal yet cozy office full of deep reds, to a warehouse with cold concrete walls and an industrial table, and the threat of suffocation from gas, to a nighttime bridge looking down into a chilled lake or vast waterfall. There was obviously a lot of effort put into each room, each scene’s environment, and they all had clean transitions—apart from a few instances of tech crew members visibly scampering onstage to begin their complicated scene-change—and were distinct from one another.

Costumes were also unique to each character. There was Sherlock’s velvety-red robe, his goofy undercover-priest garb, and his classic coat and cap. There was Watson’s simple vested suit. There were Irene Adler’s illustrious dresses full of color and intense shoulders. There was the King of Bulgaria’s out-of-place, exotic-looking princely outfit, finished with big boots and a cape.  Each character had an obvious persona that their specific costumes helped to embody.

Acting was at times over-the-top, but it fit into the rest of the show. Sometimes certain accents were over-exaggerated, but it added to the over-exaggerated tone. It created a world that resembled black-and-white detective stories I remember from my childhood—you have the heroic yet flawed detective and his trusty sidekick, the beautiful and fiery love-interest, and the evil mastermind with his goofy and slightly stupid henchmen. The extravagant set and costumes and large acting combined with the straightforward, familiar story to create a classic who-dun-it journey for the audience.

As someone whose only experience with Sherlock Holmes has been with the BBC Television series Sherlock, this show was extremely different from my view of his stories. Sherlock is extremely detail-focused; every moment and camera shot is thought-out and almost minimalistic, creating a witty, artful, and cinematographically elegant and clever television series. A theatrical adaptation of Sherlock Holmes cannot have the same focus as a television series and therefore must have a very different tone. If I were to write a review on this show, I would have to become more familiar with more traditional adaptations of the stories so that I could compare that tone with that of the theatrical adaptation.

Though parts of the show felt over-acted, I would also note that the actors’ body language was spectacular. The actors held themselves in very specific and meaningful ways, which balanced out the dramatic gestures and speech. The show was balanced: balanced between the drama and simplicity, the scenes full of color and the darker scenes with greys; the good challenging the evil.


  1. I thought you did a good job with your acting and set analysis. Your piece did a good job of balancing the play's components and your paragraphs flowed well. I know the assignment is not to write a formal review, but if that were to have been the assignment, you should have included a brief paragraph on basic plot summary and incorporated whether the play is worth seeing into your conclusion.

  2. Wonderful details here, Alaina. I especially appreciate how you evaluate the show for what it is in the medium it's offered rather than longing for it to do what the wonderful BBC series Sherlock does. This is an old skool period melodrama. And you make that clear in your descriptions of what seems overly elaborate. Well done!

    1. Thanks! As a big fan of "Sherlock," I thought the differences between the BBC show and the theatre production were very interesting. I really enjoyed seeing it.