Sherlock Holmes faced crime and creator in original adaptation

It was Sherlock Holmes as we know and adore him, but with a major twist. When Roger Llewellyn came the LPAC on Wednesday, April 14th in “Sherlock Holmes…the Death and Life” the audience were both intrigued and challenged.

The set was a traditional Victorian scene, with antique chairs, old books, and rich robes, and was clearly a place for an affluent set of characters. Before Llewellyn entered the stage, the audience were transported to a different time that immediately made the play believable.


Roger Llewellyn brought his interpretation of Sherlock Holmes to the LPAC on Wednesday, April 14th. Photo: Stephen Tanenbaum

Once Llewellyn did step foot onto the stage, his first words as the editor of “Strand Magazine”, (where Sherlock Holmes was originally published), were directed at the audience and included them in his story which grabbed their attention and involved them in the tale.

In a recent interview with The Linc, Llewellyn spoke highly of writer David Stuart Davies and called him “a writer who is probably as familiar with [Sir Arthur] Conan Doyle as anybody else on the planet”. This was certainly apparent on stage as the language echoed that of Conan Doyle impeccably: it was eloquent and charged with importance, making it clear how much research had gone into writing this play.

One-man shows are a test of the actor’s ability to hold an audience’s attention and Llewellyn rose to the challenge with ease. His stage presence was fearless and keeping the play going single-handedly seemed effortless to him. Playing the characters of Sherlock Holmes, Watson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the evil Professor Moriarty, (as well as smaller characters), Llewellyn jumped from accent to accent without fault, and kept up the different characteristics so that it was constantly clear who he was playing.

Llewellyn said that “if you literally have never heard of Sherlock Holmes you will follow this play perfectly”, which was questionable. There were throw-away references to features in the Sherlock Holmes stories such as his love interest Irene Adler, or the place where he dies Reichenbach Falls, that if you hadn’t read the books would have been confusing as their significance was not made clear.

But by far the most fascinating aspect was the storyline itself. The play took the fictional characters into the real world and faced them with their creator, Conan Doyle. It was baffling to watch, but it did provoke the thought of what the significance of these characters really is, and how Conan Doyle’s immortal creations brought him fame and money, but also brought him dismay as he could no longer control their influence – that was (and still is) up to the reader.

Designed by Llewellyn himself, the lighting was impressive as the use was clearly thought through. At times of comedy and at moments of bitterness, the lighting helped create the moods and complemented the words in the script. When Professor Moriarty gave his monologues, the stage went pitch black except for a faint spotlight which was extremely haunting to watch, complemented by Llewellyn’s commanding voice.

It was a bold move for those involved in this play to take such a well-known batch of fables and add their own twist to them, but it certainly paid off. More clarity would have been useful, but Llewellyn exuded professionalism from start to finish and delighted the entire audience with his take on the arrogant Mr Holmes.

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