The sport’s afoot in Ms. Holmes & Ms. Watson – #2B from the second a mysterious door rolls in entrance of the curtain and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved mysteries are transported to 2022. As an alternative of Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick and adviser John Watson enjoying cat and mouse with criminals and kooks within the late 19th century, playwright Kate Hamill explores what sorts of mysteries the duo would resolve as ladies in fashionable instances. Ms. Holmes & Ms. Watson – #2B is onstage at Synchronicity Theatre via October 23.
Hamill has a knack for adapting the classics into manners performs. Her comedic variations of Delight & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility and Vainness Honest have made her one of the crucial produced playwrights in America for the final 5 years. Synchronicity produced her Sense & Sensibility in 2017.
Although she has an affinity for Jane Austen, Hamill does a positive job exploring The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which is a set of brief tales by Doyle that was initially revealed in The Strand Journal from July 1891 to June 1892. The tales have been so standard that Doyle spent most of his writing profession increasing the world of Holmes and Watson into different brief fiction and novels.
Ms. Holmes & Ms. Watson – #2B. was commissioned by Kansas Metropolis Rep and acquired a world premiere there in February. This time, Sherlock, whom her landlady calls Shirley, is a reclusive, headstrong and eccentric investigator awaiting her subsequent journey. And Joan Watson is a latest divorcee from America who goes to London searching for a recent begin. Collectively, with Watson’s medical experience and Holmes’ eager consideration to element, the pair resolve quite a lot of crimes, from the homicide of a person present in a motel to the case of a right-wing politician who cheated on his spouse. Hamill performed Watson on the planet premiere.
In Synchronicity’s manufacturing, directed by Suehyla E. Younger, Tara Ochs performs Holmes and Karen Cassady performs Watson. These two have nice chemistry, however I’d prefer to see them lean into the screwball comedy a bit extra. Ochs is totally plausible because the genius, smartphone-averse Holmes. Her efficiency is so good, she make the excessive power appear “elementary.”
Watson maybe has the best arc as a personality. She goes from a disgruntled divorcee who will get queasy round blood to an instrumental a part of Holmes’ operation –however not with out some ridiculousness alongside the best way. Cassady captures this as she begins off utterly irritated with Holmes to solely half irritated. Within the bit the place the 2 fake to be nuns, she hams it up simply the correct amount.
Rounding out the solid, O’Neil Delapenha and Vallea E. Woodbury play a number of roles all through the play. Delapenha performs the villain Lestrade, together with varied different characters. Woodberry portrays the landlady, a grieving widow and a crafty femme fatale.
With deft actors, this solid actually brings again the that means of the phrase “play.” The manufacturing is at its finest when the solid is allowed to be uninhibited — which in fact means very choreographed — of their silliness. Moments comparable to Watson being pinned beneath a corpse in a tub or Holmes attempting to open a laptop computer are guffaw humorous. I simply want there have been extra of them as a result of the present lags at instances. There are components of the second act the place Hamill tries to over clarify the play’s relevance to present-day life. These, together with uneven path, result in a loss in momentum.
Kristina White’s set design is likely one of the most spectacular and cumbersome components of this manufacturing. Holmes’ condo is, in a phrase, chaotic. A painted-over picture of Marie Antoinette anchors the house, which is cluttered with taxidermied animals, Chinese language meals containers, fencing tools and an ever-present skeleton. The colourful blue partitions and flooring and full chaos of the place makes it hanging to take a look at, along with a artistic use of a neon signal to point location modifications.
Nonetheless, White and Younger by no means fairly discover the proper rhythm for scene transitions, which frequently really feel uncoordinated and unnecessarily difficult within the small black field theater. Transferring the door backwards and forwards from one finish of the stage to the subsequent doesn’t jell. The stagehands are deliberately seen onstage and true to the farcical nature of Doyle’s writing; their help with the mischief suits the piece. However it’s additionally clunky in a method that distracts from the witty one-liners and Holmesian hijinks.
Greater than a century because the tales have been first revealed, fashionable variations of Doyle’s work make their method into popular culture, such because the CBS sequence Elementary and the BBC sequence Sherlock. Hamill’s new play provides the tales refresh in the best way of Lucy and Ethel, Cagney and Lacey or Rizzoli and Isles. With all of the makings of buddy comedy, there’s little question that Ms. Holmes & Ms. Watson – #2B could have a life within the theater for a very long time.
Kelundra Smith, an ArtsATL Editor-at-Massive, is a critic and humanities journalist whose mission is to attach folks to cultural experiences and one another. Her work seems in The New York Instances, ESPN’s Andscape, American Theatre and elsewhere. She is a member of the American Theatre Critics Affiliation and the Society of Skilled Journalists.