Review: A Sherlock Carol - Marylebone Theatre

When I was contacted by the theatre, through this blog, to let me know about this production, I was intrigued and decided to give it a go. I should point out that I had to pay in full. This was no freebie.

In A Sherlock Carol we have a smashing together of Dickens' A Christmas Carol and the only Sherlock Holmes story set at Christmas The Blue Carbuncle. The author of this play rams these two together and sprinkles in characters (or at least their names) from other Holmes stories too.

That said, there is more of Dickens in this than Doyle. Essentially, we have a Holmes who is drifting following the defeat of Professor Moriarty. He has cut himself off from Watson and is bemoaning the Christmas season and the lack of purpose in his life. In short, he is now Scrooge.

He is persuaded by an adult Tiny Tim (now a doctor) to investigate the death of the actual Scrooge. Scrooge later appears to Holmes very much in the characters of Christmas past, present, and future to show Holmes the way out of his doldrums. The twin mysteries to be solved are the death of Scrooge and the disappearance of the Blue Carbuncle which was in Scrooge's possession.

Ben Caplan (right) as Holmes examines the Carbuncle but is outshone in deduction by Miss Cratchit (Rosie Armstrong, centre)

Romance is thrown in with the appearance of Irene Adler (who was never Holmes's love interest despite what many adaptations have suggested) and the official police are represented by Inspector Lestrade.

Gemma Laurie (left, as Lestrade) and Ben Caplan as Holmes

But what of the cast?

Ben Caplan plays Holmes. He plays an unshaven Holmes who come across as a blend of Scrooge and Robert Downey Jr's Holmes. He is scruffy (so at odds with the true Holmes) and grumpy (fair enough.) Where he falls down is his few deduction scenes. He comes across as someone who has learned the lines rather than a detective actually deducing anything. It is the only downside in his performance. In fact the best piece of explained deduction comes from actress Rosie Armstrong playing Tiny Tim's sister (amongst other parts) when she shows herself to be very much Holmes's equal. It is amusing that Armstrong also plays Adler so plays both characters that show an interest in Holmes.

Far and away, the best performance comes from Kammy Darweish as Scrooge. He has less stage time than he should (a downside of being dead.) But his turns as Scrooge, both alive and dead, are a delight. Over the top and gloriously so.

Richard James plays a barely used Watson (amongst other characters.) Only Caplan and Darweish play a single character. The others all play at least two characters. Gemma Laurie's turn as Lestrade is wonderfully eccentric and is the best of the characters she plays. Damian Lynch as, predominantly, Dr "Tiny" Tim Cratchit is quite the jovial presence and his lines drew a lot of the laughs.

This play is definitely more faithful to Dickens than Doyle and I guess that is as it should be.

Written by Alistair Duncan Buy my books here