If you wish to see a play about Sherlock Holmes where you rise and fall with every twist and turn of the plot, look no further than Charles Marowitz’s Sherlock’s Last Case presented by the Group Rep and running through Jan. 13 at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in the NoHo Arts District.
The play is the story of a death threat against Holmes by a former nemesis and the classically brilliant way in which Holmes deals with it.
In this mystery spoof, picking up where Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories ended, the audience is treated to an unusually candid and sobering view of the relationship between Sherlock Holmes and his trusted assistant Dr. Watson.
The play, set in Victorian England, takes us on an up and down excursion to the heart of English life and the principals it is built on.
Indeed, it is true that if Holmes, and through him Marowitz, are an example of British wit and intelligence one can see the deep love and affection that nation places on its history and social class system.
Marowitz’s words sing with a sense-of-humor and honesty that clarify the characters and give them a humanity rare for a Holmes project.
The spoof is wonderfully funny at times though the premise is sometimes questionable and improbable.
Larry Eisenberg’s direction is spot on. The action has a crispness and flow to it that helps the plot move along without distractions.
There is a depth and substance that nurture the play’s storyline. The characters talk to each other, not at each other, and a true friendship is underscored between Holmes and Watson.
Chris Winfield (Sherlock Holmes) is strong and convincing. The play would not be what it is without his connection with and commitment to the part.
Bert Emmett (Dr. Watson) follows his winning turns in Cobb at the GRT and Don’t Hug Me, I’m Pregnant at the Secret Rose with another North Hollywood golden moment here.
Patrick Burke (Inspector Lestrade) is almost farcical, but wonderfully expressive in a small role not to be forgotten.
Allison King (Liza) proves true to her character in a relaxed and fruitful portrayal. Her intensity and dedication shine.
But it is Hersha Parady (Mrs. Hudson) who steals the day. Her firecracker funny and spontaneously vivid portrayal is both deeply moving and emotionally robust. Her stage presence is unmistakable. Parady is fearless throughout.
Adding to the play are Winfield’s set design, Kim Smith’s lighting design, Steve Shaw’s sound design, Emily Doyle’s costume design and producer Drina Durazo’s special effects.
All in all, basing a production on a character as famous and time-tested as Holmes is daring and courageous.
Sherlock’s Last Case is another notch in the belts of co-artistic directors Winfield and Eisenberg, and a real step forward for this already momentum-laden company.
Friday and Saturday at 8pmSunday at 2pmLonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood 91601Reservations: (818) 763-5990Tickets: $22; Senior/Student: $17; Group 10+: $15 Friday Night Ladies Night-Tix half price for ladies.
Parking: Ample street parking and early-bird lot parking available.