Theatre 0 Comedy 0 Dance


The Murder Of Sherlock Holmes


For pure entertainment value you will be hard pushed to see a better show at this year’s Festival. This play within a play is a comedy thriller with live music and songs. The setting is a vividly realised, fog- bound Victorian London. The proprietor of a Whitechapel house of ill-repute in the grimy East End stages a play, The Murder Of Sherlock Holmes, as a ruse to publicly declare his innocence of a series of murders of prostitutes that have taken place on his very premises.

The play within the play is fascinating in itself. It speculates as to the precise nature of Holmes' pursuit of his arch enemy Professor Moriarty to The Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. It also works as a device to cast the entire audience as the assembled dignitaries attending the performance in Whitechapel, who have to be persuaded of the cast's innocence. It sounds complicated, but it isn’t. It merely serves to further involve you, the viewer.

The Sherlock Holmes depicted is the morally ambiguous character who inhabited Conan Doyle's earlier stories. He is the cocaine addict driven more by vanity in his adventures than by thoughts of justice. In the play within a play, he is performed by the proprietor Mr Sweller, an equally ambiguous character, addicted to opium and ambivalent to the fate of his girls. He is assisted by his cut-throat sidekick Jack Claw, who plays a compellingly raw and edgy Dr Watson. As they are

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Peeping charlie: The Murder Of Sherlock Holmes

obsessed with saving their own skins, the playwright Mr Nathan is as equally obsessed with his own literary genius. With all the girls dead, he takes on the female roles in an effort to salvage his production. It’s a trick that lends an air of grotesque pantomime to the proceedings. Only the simple accordion player seems moved by the tragedies played out before him. His musical accompaniment to some darkly comic songs adds yet further spice to the play.

With great physical presence and genuine suspense, this ribald and vigorous drama has something to please just about everyone. Riveting stuff and heartily recommended. (Ross Holloway)

l The Murder Of Sherlock Holmes (Fringe) TNT Theatre and The American Theatre Group London, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 30 Aug, 3pm, £8/£ 7 (£7/£6).

Scotch mistress: Caledonia Dreaming

This production's well acted, there's a clever, intriguing set and it's entertaining enough. But there's a distinct lack of insightful political exploration. Long gone are the days when 7:84 set the heather alight with their agit-prop theatre, and perhaps rightly so. But surely Scotland's radical theatre company can offer more.

Director Ian Reekie hopes that in the play 'you can find anything you want.’ What does that mean? Can the audience assume that the dreamscape ending 'happens’ and that the importation of US style get up and go ideologies succeed? Or does the obvious unreality prevent concrete

THEATRE REVIEW Caledonia Dreaming “at

'Solitaire's the only game in town.’ So croons the aspiring black singer in this examination of Scottish aspirations at a defining moment in history. It's an appropriate line, for the alienated individual stands at the centre of the text. The singer is joined by a disparate group of Edinburghers; unemployed working-class boy, alcoholic upper

32 THE IJS'I' 26 Aug—9 Sep 1999

middle-class housewife, disfunctionally depressed taxi driver, corrupt New Labour politician, not to forget the ’tart with a heart' prostitute.

Cliched stereotypes or what? Well, let's assume they're representative types used as exploratory dramatic devices. Even so, the range of characters is so broad that the play struggles to establish any genuine commonality of interest. Thus the relationships that are very constructed are clearly that constructed.


David Greig is undoubtedly one of Scotland’s most interesting playwrights formally. However, political theatre must be open to political criticism. It need not offer solutions, but it must strive to open up new ways of seeing. This production struggles to do so. (Davie Archibald)

I Caledonia Dreaming (Fringe) 7:84 Theatre Company Scotland, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 29 Aug, 5.30pm, £9/E8 (£6/E5).

I I \ The last batch of essential shows at this year's Fringe

audiences this year, a show about Nixon's spiralling last hours as American President. Nixon 's Nixon (Fringe) Observer Assembly ( Venue 3) 226 2428, until 30 Aug, 3pm, £9/£8 (£8/£ 7).

The Murder Of Sherlock Holmes See review, left. The Murder Of Sherlock Holmes (Fringe) TNT Theatre and The American Theatre Group London, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 30 Aug, 3pm, £8/£ 7 (E 7/£ 6).

Cooking With Elvis The macabre and funny story of one paralysed Elvis impersonator, his wife, daughter, their tortoise and the local baker. Cooking With Elvis (Fringe) Live Theatre Company, Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 30 Aug, 4.30pm, £70/£9 (£9/f8).

Riddance Exploring the dynamics between three people whose relationships are built on love, friendship and guilt. A must see. Riddance (Fringe) Paines Plough, Traverse Theatre (Venue 75) 228 7404, until 4 Sep, times vary, £9 (£6). Mainstream A slick production working through the various possible outcomes of a winter weekend interview, with excellent performances and direction. Mainstream (Fringe) Suspect Culture, Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 30 Aug, 4.50pm, £9.50/E850 (£8.50/E 7. 50). Bleach The collaboration between UK's boilerhouse and New Zealand’s Trouble has produced this remarkable production. Bleach (Fringe) boilerhouse/Trouble, Graffiti (Venue 90) 557 8330, until 28 Aug, 5.30pm, £8.50 (£6.50).