‘Sherlock Holmes – The Best Kept Secret’ written by Mark Catley and directed by Nikolai Foster is touring the UK prior to a West End run. I went to see it during the first week at West Yorkshire Playhouse. Watch the trailer and allow me to set the scene …
After a serious run in with his arch rival Moriarty at Reichenback Falls, a broken down, recovering Sherlock has been away from the detective game for two whole years, scraping by through selling his stories to an eager-eared hack. He is forced back into work when his brother Mycroft is wrongly arrested for treason.
With Watson at his side and ‘The Woman’ Irene Adler offering her assistance, Sherlock must work quickly to crack the code to save his brother’s life, as well as his own reputation as the greatest sleuth of all time.
Excellent! Now, I must confess I have not read the books, watched the films or even caught the TV show (sorry!) so I came to see the play with the most basic background knowledge of Sherlock Holmes. This is a new production and a brand new case, which Mark Catley as a huge fan of Doyle’s work, was very keen to write the script for.
The play is set in the 1890s, with references to Oscar Wilde and Jack The Ripper as well as former cases from Sherlock’s career. The costumes have an understated elegance – nothing going straight on to my “must try on at WYP Costume Hire” list (ok maybe the gory intestine filled surgeon’s gown) – but fittingly dapper for all involved.
The mystery was intensified by the atmospheric and dramatically lit set, pace setting music between scene changes and the characters’ comical outbursts – a Catley trademark. No one said “Elementary” but we got a “No Shit Sherlock!” much to the audiences’ delight.
Jason Durr is truly fantastic in the lead role. I enjoyed his socially awkward yet charmingly aloof ways, and, after much consideration I would aliken his smouldering smirks to an equal mix of Bradley Cooper and Lee Evans. Who is with me on this? *watches the tumbleweed*
The revolving set kept my head spinning as much as the special effects, and just adds to the overall beauty of the production. I’d highly recommend seeing it, even if you’re not a die-hard detective fan!
So, here’s my playlist review, with some explanations for my choices alongside the tracklistings below. No, there’s no Baker Street but you may play an imaginary saxophone if you wish (quietly).
- Abney Park – Victorian Vigilante – The play is set in the 1890s (with a nod to Steampunk in the set and props) and Sherlock is our flawed hero.
- Elvis Costello – Watching The Detectives – The police are watching Sherlock, as are the press, and the criminals seeking revenge. No wonder he’s paranoid.
- Robert Palmer – Looking For Clues – He’s not one for ‘smalltalk’ but Sherlock is picking up clues from body language, scent, jewellery markings and much more. This is even before he gets the magnifying glass.
- State Radio – Riddle In London Town – Grim up north? Try the dank, murky streets of Victorian London!
- Lisa Mitchell – Sidekick – Where would Sherlock be without his trusted Dr Watson? A partnership made in tweed-suited heaven.
- Mark Kozelek & Jimmy LaValle – What Happened to My Brother – Sherlock’s brother Mycroft seems fully accepting of the impending doom he faces. In a touching moment whilst saying goodbye, the brothers swap memories of their childhood. Their oddities are endearing as it is clear their great intelligence has left them out of place in everyday society.
- The Lemonheads – My Drug Buddy – In the depths of depression, Sherlock turns to opiates and cocaine in an attempt to open his mind and solve the puzzle. The hallucination scene is wonderful! Although we frown on Irene for enabling him, and credit Watson with his caring nature.
- Jurassic 5 – Work It Out – The elaborate traps set for Sherlock require him to crack mathematical codes under pressure in life and death situations, yet all with a cool exterior and an air of humour.
- Dan Le Sac – Look For The Woman – Irene Adler is the only woman ever to outfox Sherlock Holmes. It is a case of him not trusting her, or not trusting himself, particularly emotionally, around her?
- Queens Of The Stone Age – The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret – A fantastic finale where the trickster becomes the trickee. But how is this done? And is this the end? Why it’s a secret of course!
Sherlock Holmes – The Best Kept Secret is at the West Yorkshire Playhouse until 8 June with tickets available from £12 to £27. The play will then tour the UK before a West End run.