Writer & Director: Jonathan Goodwin
Reviewer: Kath Hill
Well at least for now, as we meet him on the brink of certain doom. But while he does, he has time to regale us with the edited highlights of his sensational adventures. Against a small but fascinating set filled with the accoutrements a Victorian consulting detective requires for his art, Holmes describes his encounters with many nefarious gentlemen – and, of course, The Woman.
Jonathan Goodwin is Holmes. He doesn’t act the part of Holmes – he is Holmes. It is rare to see an actor so completely under the skin of their character in a small production. His expressions are wide, his expansive gestures, dismissive tone and self-aggrandising style perfectly embody the great man. Thus it is almost surprising when Goodwin slips on another character as easily as he slips on their overcoats, which he does at intervals to better illustrate Holmes’ encounters with various villains, rogues and associates. His range of accents is remarkable but what really adds polish to the characters is the remarkable body language, which he manages to keep just the right side of overblown. Goodwin’s frequent interactions with the audience show experience and confidence in his own ability, which is well deserved.
The script, also written by Goodwin (with perhaps a little help from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), is sublime. The pace is perfect, taking the audience on a first class tour of Holmes’ cases with help from notable adversaries and associates as well as a few other slightly unexpected contemporary figures. No fan of Holmes could be disappointed with the content and the wry humour that runs throughout, delivered with a mischievous glint in the eye, preventing the whole from being too po-faced and dry. The nod to Guy Ritchie’s recent cinematic Holmes is a stroke of genius.
Special mention must go to technical director Gary Archer whose support pulls the whole production together into something quite special. The lighting and sound are in perfect harmony with the actor, particularly within the unusual space that is the Bierkeller Theatre, creating the ideal ambiance and making the time travel to the 1890s all the more credible.
This show is a real crowd pleaser and a must see for any fan of Holmes, Victoriana and adventure.