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Sherlock Holmes and teh Adventure of the Suicide Club

a Drama
by Jeffrey Hatcher

COMPANY : Georgia Ensemble Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Georgia Ensemble Theatre and Conservatory [WEBSITE]
ID# 4434

SHOWING : February 28, 2013 - March 17, 2013



Behind the impressive façade of a windowless house, some of Europe’s most powerful men gather to play a game. The game is Murder, and this is The Suicide Club. But the Club has a new member: Sherlock Holmes – brilliant, perceptive, the greatest detective in the English-speaking world. Does Holmes want to die? Or is some other game afoot as he and Watson always seem one step behind as the corpses of Europe’s power players start turning up all over London? This beguiling thriller brings the famous detective fully alive on our stage with a tale filled with endless mystery, twists, and chills in this sharp and clever brand new Holmes adventure

Director Robert Farley
Dr. John H. Watson Hugh Adams
Sherlock Holmes Bryan Brendle
Mrs. Hudson/Lucy O'Malley/Older Lady LaLa Cochran
Mr. Williams/Mr. Roundy Matt Felten
Christiane de LaBegassier Alexandra Ficken
Mr. Henry Charles Green
Club Secretary Tess Malis Kincaid
Mr. George/Inspector Micklewhite Matt Lewis
Prince Nikita Starloff Matthew Myers
Mr. Richards/Mycroft Holmes Thomas L. Strickland
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by playgoer
Monday, March 18, 2013
Bryan Brendle has the looks and bearing of a stentorian, stoic matinee idol. That doesn't work altogether well in Georgia Ensemble Theatre's production of Jeffrey Hatcher's "Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club." His Sherlock Holmes isn't particularly engaging and seems too modern for the time period, playing a number of scenes tie-less. A booming-voiced, yet suicidal Sherlock Holmes doesn't really work. He may shed real tears at the end of the show, but Mr. Brendle (and director Robert J. Farley) don't make the audience share those tears.

The plot is the point of this play. The situation puts Sherlock Holmes and a concerned Dr. Watson (Hugh Adams) in contact with a suicide club, in which one member effects the murder of another, in suicide by proxy. Of course, there are complications and clues abounding, murders and deaths, and a final set of revelations that tie up the story. It would make for a rousing good read. As a play, not so much.

The set design by Seamus M. Bourne makes this a particularly unattractive production. Scaffold-like stairs and platforms in the back are topped by a projection screen, and appear to be stylistically at odds with the high school-quality stone walls at either side that surround, but do not disguise, the modern auditorium doors used as entrances and exits. Additional set pieces roll on and off and add distinct style elements (curves and skylines) that contribute to the hodge-podge impression. Only the headstones of the final scene (apparently provided by properties mistress extraordinaire Maclare Park) make a truly favorable impression. Even the lobby design (by Kathleen Parish) and lights (by Bryan Rosengrant) seem to come from a different design sensibility than the set.

Performances are good, with the most impressive ones coming from the double-cast actors (Matt Felten, Thomas L. Stickland, Matt Lewis, and Lala Cochran). Hugh Adams' Dr. Watson and Charles Green's Mr. Henry also keep interest in their scenes. Accents are a bit of a mixed bag, though. Some of the foreign accents are supposed to be fake and some real, but they all seem to join in a half-British/half-American meeting ground that muddles the supposed nationalities of the characters. Projection is good all around, but the accents often join with a bit of an echo to make dialogue difficult to understand.

The biggest disappointment of the evening is probably Tess Malis Kincaid as the Club Secretary. Her costumes by Linda Patterson don't ring true to the period, and the illusions chosen for her by Rick Hinze make her look incompetent as a magician. The character is more a plot contrivance than anything else, and Ms. Kincaid doesn't make it more. (And she didn't pick up the misspelling "cunng" as editor of the program!)

:Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club" is part of the burgeoning body of work expanding on Arthur Conan Doyle's original series of stories to allow him to provide a "brand name" for new theatrical endeavors. The role of Robert Louis Stevenson in providing the raw material in the form of the novella "The Suicide Club" hasn't been strongly stressed, but it's another example of a tried-and-proven "brand" being reworked for the stage. There's nothing wrong with that, but nothing particularly original either. Georgia Ensemble Theatre has chosen a show it hopes will fill seats, but it's not a show that is likely to fill hearts and memories for long. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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