An adaptation of the first Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet from Tacit Theatre at the Southwark Playhouse, could go anywhere. Sitting in the comfy, worn, brown couches I sit with a couple friends relaxing, I wonder how this small, south London theatre will stage the consulting detective. As with my previous experience in the realm of small, independent theatres there was no need to be concerned. Conan Doyle's first Holmes' story was adapted and with creativity, originality, and reverence for the story, while the performances were new and familiar at the same time. Holmes and Watson, once again, leapt off the page in true theatrical force with amazing staging, sound, story, and performances.
When I walk into the the small theatre with general seating, I could have been walking into 221B itself. Holmes and Watson's chairs were neatly placed next to each other with proper places for pipes, chemistry experiments, violins and a spattering of the appropriate wall coverings.
|221B in the Southwark Playhouse|
Story. Adapting a story needs to be done with as much care and thought as writing an original piece. As I read A Study in Scarlet for the first time, I found myself enthralled at the story happening at Baker Street and Lauriston Gardens, but had a hard time with the chunk that took place in the wilds of the American West. The adapters for this version of Conan Doyle's story, Greg Freeman and Lila Whelan, took the stories' "American experience" and English bits and intertwined them allowing the action in America to guide the story in London.
|Staging of 221B|
With the first adventure complete, we see Holmes and Watson sitting in Baker Street when the latter contemplates the end of the adventure; Holmes, all knowing, tells him that it's not the end, but only the beginning!
I have seem many wonderful plays in the big theatres of the West-End, but the discovery of the smaller, independent theatres in the north and south of town has been a delight. Two plays in small theatres (yes, both with Holmesian stories) allows the audience to experience theatre outside of assigned seating; it allows one to sit right in Baker Street and join Holmes and Watson on their adventure as opposed to on the fringe. I left the theatre with a high leaving me wanting to talk more about the play, the story, the detective, not wanting to return to the 21st Century for the moment.