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KATS - Sherlock Holmes - The Final Adventure

3rd to 5th June 2010.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Super sleuths

KATS: Sherlock Holmes - The Final Adventure at New Greenham Arts, from Thursday, June 3 to Saturday, June 5

Written by Steven Dietz and deriving from the work of William Gillette and Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes: the Final Adventure starts with the announcement of the death of Holmes, with Dr Watson narrating the story of his last case, at the end of which – as we all know – Holmes died, along with his nemesis Moriarty, at the Reichenbach Falls. Or did he?

The set was fairly basic with two main areas representing Holmes’s study and other interior locations, with the surrounding space used for narration and other action. This worked well, with lighting showing the scene changes, although the actors sometimes put themselves in shadow.

As director, you could approach this in several ways: as a straight play, camp it up, or as a melodrama. Kevin Miller chose the straight route, with forays into the other two.

The play is so dependent on the characters and interaction of Holmes and Watson, and we got a magnificent partnership from David Richardson as Holmes – authoritative, arrogant and superior – and Nick Saunders as Watson – sensible, competent, put upon, but as Holmes says, “the one fixed point in a changing age”. Both seemed just right for the parts, and carried the production along on a high.

Mike Cole as Professor Moriarty was smooth and believably evil although his sing-song delivery grated a little at times.

Paul Strickland was a surprise as the King of Bohemia, looking like a cross between Batman and Keith Allen’s Sheriff of Nottingham and providing some camp comedy.

As one of the baddies, Will Froud was a promising newcomer in his first major role with KATS, paired with Kayleigh Dibble as his sister.

Paula Hart played the fickle opera singer, trying with little success to coax Holmes into a romantic encounter that didn’t involve a history of pipes. As the safecracking sidekick to Moriarty, John Hicks gave some good character acting but words got lost in his fast delivery.

The costumes, by Eileen McCarthy, were impressive and gave a fine period feel to the production.

The pace was good at the start, but dropped off a bit as the play progressed. Nonetheless, this was an engrossing and enjoyable production from KATS.