Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure opened recently at St. Paul’s Park Square Theatre, as the final show of Park Square’s 2007-8 season. Anyone who appreciates a good mystery is likely to have an enjoyable evening attending this performance. The play, an area premiere, is adapted by Steven Dietz from the 1899 play by Arthur Conan Doyle and William Gillette. The play also incorporates elements of Conan Doyle’s books A Scandal in Bohemia and The Final Problem.
Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, a play written by Steven Dietz and directed by Peter Moore. Presented through June 22 at Park Square Theatre, 20 W. 7th Place, St. Paul. For tickets ($18-$36) and information, see parksquaretheatre.org.
The play begins with Sherlock Holmes (Steve Hendrickson) summoning his dear friend Dr. Watson (Bob Davis) to his home in the middle of the night; from there the adventures come full-force. Holmes and Watson are visited by the King of Bohemia, who enlists the detective to retrieve a scandalous photo of the king and a famous opera singer that he fears might destroy his impending nuptials. Soon, Holmes and Watson are involved in a tangled trail of traps, forged letters, and secret identities. The new case also brings Holmes face-to-face with his arch-nemesis, the evil Professor Moriarty (James Cada.)
Fast-paced and humorous, the play is fun even for those of us who aren’t as familiar with the Sherlock Holmes canon. Hendrickson is charming as the world-famous detective and does a splendid job delivering difficult dialogue. As Moriarty, Cada is deliciously evil. The American opera singer who woos our detective, Irene Adler (Virginia Burke) is a great intellectual match. Romantic scenes between the two seem forced, but this is more likely due to the writing than to the acting.
Fast-paced and humorous, the play is fun even for those of us who aren’t as familiar with the Sherlock Holmes canon.
Scenes between Holmes and Watson, on the other hand, are more rewarding. The two banter back and forth, with Watson never quite sure what is going on in Holmes’s head. As in Conan Doyle’s books, Watson narrates the story and is a charming guide to audience members who are often just as astonished by Holmes’ observations as his friend Watson is.
The set is framed by cardboard-like London scenery—which has interesting potential, but doesn’t entirely fit with more detailed sets at center stage. Lighting plays a significant element in the production, for example highlighting Watson during brief asides. The Final Adventure is certainly not the finest play ever written, but it is a fun and intriguing escape—and really, isn’t that ultimately what we go to the theater for?
Rebecca Mitchell is a graduate of the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities. She lives in Uptown Minneapolis and is currently working in public relations.
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