Breathtakingly inventive and theatrically innovative, Sacred Fools Theatre Company”™s new show Watson is a hilarious, exhilarating and emotionally complex play about author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle”™s most famous creations – Dr. John H. Watson, Sherlock Holmes, the villainous Professor Moriaty and the elusive and ravishingly beautiful Irene Adler.
Written and directed by company member Jaime Robledo (Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom)Â this side-splittingly funny and inventive “final chapter” of the legend of Sherlock Holmes was developed over the course of 2009, during their hit late-night season of new short plays known as Serial Killers.
Robledo”™s brilliant play posits Watson as the central character of this comedic drama. Earnest chronicler of his good friend Sherlock Holmes”™ dramatic exploits, in literature Watson is generally thought of as the more prosaic sidekick and trusty aide to the unique, colorful and dashing adventurer sleuth. Here, as in the books, a rather rotund Watson (Scott Leggett) plays the straight man to the wildly eccentric Holmes (Joe Fria). First seen shooting up (remember, this is a character who used to inject cocaine into his veins when he lacked a mystery to occupy his vast intellect), Holmes is presented as an extreme personality, consumed by paranoid and drug-fuelled delusions and on the verge of mental breakdown. There”™s even a lovely interlude where Holmes”™ drug addiction is personified by a beguiling but cruel dance partner.
A cockeyed and wildly gesticulating Holmes rants to Watson about a criminal mastermind that he has dubbed “The Napoleon of Crime” – Professor Moriaty (Henry Dittman). Holmes sees villains, thugs and murderous minions of Moriarty in every shadow while Watson, who has never actually laid eyes on this mysterious nemesis, is starting to think Holmes may have lost his mind. A journey in the service of Queen Victoria (played hilariously in drag by French Stewart) involving an intricate puzzle box propels Holmes to leave London for the Continent, coercing his good friend Watson to abandon his sweet and long-suffering wife Mary (CJ Merriman). But Watson has enlisted one of Holmes”™ lesser nemeses, the alluring Irene Adler (Rebecca Larsen), and they have other plans for Holmes.
Their travels take them to a sanatorium in Vienna where Holmes comes face-to-face with another great analytical mind, Sigmund Freud (also played to great effect by French Stewart).
In spite of a thrilling plotline worthy of Doyle himself, the true genius of this magnificent production lies in its constantly inventive staging. Andrew Amani, Jennefer Ludwigsen, Lisa Anne Nicolai and Colin Willkie are the four actors who serve as prop manipulators, effortlessly moving basic pieces such as chairs, hat stands or travelling trunks into position to assist with comedic and action-packed staging. In the vein of the old Saturday matinee cliffhangers, these particular scenes play out with great drama and excitement. The simple shifting of boxes becomes the set for a thrilling battle of fisticuffs atop a speeding train. Wooden chairs become horses for a daring horse chase as our heroes are pursued by bandits. Best of all is the clever scene where Freud tries to analyze a reluctant Holmes; the four ensemble players hold window frames and make appropriate sound effects for the farcical sequence where Holmes keeps throwing the windows open and Freud keeps slamming them shut. It makes for an unbelievably riotous scene.
Add a puppet show to the mix, and you have a wondrously creative and highly entertaining evening of theatre.Â Do not miss this show!
Watson (World Premiere)
Presented by Sacred Fools Theatre Company
Written & Directed by Jaime Robledo
Cast: Andrew Amani, Henry Dittman, Joe Fria, Eric Curtis Johnson,
Rebecca Larsen, Scott Leggett, Jennefer Ludwigsen, CJ Merriman, Lisa
Anne Nicolai, French Stewart, & Colin Willkie
WHERE: Sacred Fools Theater,
660 N. Heliotrope, Hollywood, CA 90004
Runs: through Dec. 11th, Fridays & Saturdays, 8pm, plus Thursdays,
Nov. 18 & Dec. 2 at 8pm
Tickets are $20.00, available online or by calling 310-281-8337.
Review by Pauline Adamek