Sherlock Holmes: the downfall of his creator

Sherlock Holmes is the world’s most famous detective, fictional or otherwise. He’s a distinguished and fascinating character to the literary world, and loved by readers, theatre goers, and film fanatics alike. But this Wednesday, April 14th, Lincoln will see a Sherlock Holmes tale like no other, when the illustrious actor Roger Llewellyn takes to the LPAC stage in “Sherlock Holmes…the Death and Life”.


Distinguished actor, Roger Llewellyn, will play Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle amongst others, in an original play written by David Stuart Davies. Photo: Stephen Tanenbaum

Written by David Stuart Davies, this is his second play to elaborate on the original writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and to introduce a new exploration into the psychology of Holmes: “It’s a fantasy based upon the fiction of Sherlock Holmes,” says Llewellyn, “but the premise in this play is that Conan Doyle creates the evil Professor Moriarty to finish off Sherlock Holmes.”

The story of the author is as intriguing as the stories he himself created and this play uniquely includes Conan Doyle as a character. The audience are brought face-to-face with the brains behind it all, and running parallel to the story of Holmes and Moriarty, they are told of the turmoil that his Frankenstein-like creation caused.

“We hear letters that [Conan Doyle] writes about his career and his intentions for Sherlock Holmes, but then we go further and we find how his life has become beleaguered by being a very popular author,” said Llewellyn. “He slightly resented his creation of Holmes, so we find out exactly what his life is as the author and we also go into his passions for spiritualism and how he was made to look a fool by his belief.”

Davies, “a writer who is probably as familiar with Conan Doyle as anybody else on the planet”, has remained very close to the original style of writing, but has taken the initial stories and developed them: “The interesting thing that the writer has come up with is what would happen if the created character took on a life of its own,” says Llewellyn.

“Davies’ idea was that what if Moriarty decides that he doesn’t like being a fictional character, he’s not going to do what he’s supposed to do, and he doesn’t actually pal up with Sherlock Holmes but decides to go another way which produces fairly dramatic, amusing, and unexpected results.”

A connoisseur of the stage, Llewellyn describes performing Holmes on over 650 occasions as a “privilege”, and insists that he has never felt pressure playing him, despite most people having their own conception of who Holmes is and how he should be played:

“The only way I can play anybody is to follow a route of examining all the thoughts and intentions, and of looking up what the character says and asking: ‘Why does he say that? Is he saying that for the obvious reason, or is he saying that for another reason and if the other reason, why?’ You have to go through all these things, and when you have, you look back on all the work you’ve done and what you find is a character that you’ve sort of created.”

“Sherlock Holmes…the Death and Life” looks set to be a real crowd pleaser, and the amount of effort both on stage and behind the scenes, (which often gets forgotten), should ensure that the audience are affected by a number of emotions.

“You will be vastly entertained, amused, and you will laugh quite a lot. I also think there are moments where you’ll be slightly chilled,” says Llewellyn.

But this experience will not be exclusive to just those familiar with Holmes: “What happens in the course of this play is that everything is made clear to you as you go along, so if you literally have never heard of Sherlock Holmes you will follow this play perfectly.”

Promising to “intrigue and catch people by surprise”, Llewellyn’s portrayal of Holmes, Conan Doyle, Professor Moriarty, and a host of other characters, looks to be masterful and not to be missed.

“Sherlock Holmes…the Death and Life” will play the LPAC this Wednesday, April 14th. Doors open at 7pm and the performance begins at 8pm. Tickets are £10/£7 concessions and can be bought by visiting the LPAC’s website or by calling their box office: 0844 888 14 44.

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