Stuart King

Review: A SHERLOCK CAROL at Marylebone Theatre

Written and directed by Mark Shanahan, as its title suggests, this amalgamation draws heavily from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, loosely coupled with the investigative exploits of super-sleuth Sherlock Holmes.

A Sherlock Carol at Marylebone Theatrel-r Richard James, Jessica Hern, Ben Kaplan, Devesh Kishore, Rosie Armstrong in A Sherlock Carol at Marylebone Theatre. Photography by Alex Brenner.

Moriarty is dead (apparently), but far from dying with him at the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland, Holmes lives and has returned to London. Now a desolate and irascible man taunted by the loss of his great and worthy adversary, the detective eschews his familiar pairing with Dr Watson and discovers new relationships with characters drawn and developed from Dicken’s seasonal favourite. Erelong, the detective is deducing and grouchily pronouncing whilst those around him fall neatly into his intellectual orbit.

Designer Anna Louizos eschews the usual chintzy Victoriana in favour of a wrought iron frame, through and around which, are wheeled various pieces of furniture as required for each scene. Whilst this may solve various staging challenges, the approach does little to add to the period appeal and a swirl of hazy smoke, lit from above, compounds the matter by creating a distinctly amateurish feel.

Ben Caplan resolutely refuses to don a deerstalker as Holmes whilst Kammy Darweish plays Ebenezer Scrooge with the fervour of a man blessed by redemption. The remaining players (Richard James, Rosie Armstrong, Hannah Parker, Henry Proffit, Jessica Hern and Davesh Kishore) deliver a motley assortment of rogues, villains and innocent’s, commensurate with the period and source material. Their combined efforts do most to lift the bumbling narrative from its stodgy first half set-up, through a lively second half and on to the satisfying conclusion. As a twist on (two) old themes goes, the production is unlikely to win awards in the city used to presenting the exploits of both protagonists. Equally, the material may struggle to keep children especially riveted and engaged this Christmas season, but there remains a charmingly nostalgic, if distinctly old-fashioned thread running throughout the show currently playing at the Marylebone Theatre, and it will hopefully draw a local audience.