Sherlock Holmes and the Invisible Thing, by Ken McClymont, is an entertaining show. Resorting to the well-known characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Greg Freeman introduces us to a plot where Sherlock Holmes, played by Alex Mann, is challenged to solve a murder committed by an invisible entity.
The murder that forms the backbone of the detective story does not impart the play with a tragic feeling, as it is presented with a light and rather comic atmosphere. The characters are gathered in the living room of the daughter of the victim and between harmless teasing and silly jokes they help Holmes to put the puzzle pieces together.
Miss Grendle’s living room, consisting of vintage furniture and stuffed animals, represents a detailed work. Mike Leopold has carefully thought about which props can transform an empty space into a thematic one and how they need to be disposed and manipulated in an invisible way. The same goes for the lighting of the show: Jack Weir has designed simple light ing, but very suitable and effective. It’s a great example of how less can signify more.
Dramatically speaking, the invisible theme was not as well-resolved. As the story unfolds, we realise that certain plot elements, such as the choice of an invisible killer, are used as devices for the discussion of social issues such as racism, slavery, chauvinism and devaluation of women in society. However, the gaiety of the play only allows these themes to be introduced in a superficial and moralistic way. The solution to the mystery of the invisible killer, although surprising, falls short compared to the classic Holmes adventures.
Therefore the show in general does not represent a massive challenge for the actors’ work. Their characters don’t need an exhaustive psychological approach and development. The cast find a physical and clear way of underlining the personality of their roles: Saria Steel plays a drunk and dramatic Lucy Grendel; Faith Edwards portrays a focus and obedient housekeeper; and Dan Maclane a dilettante yet cocky inspector. Mann interprets a classic Holmes, witty and abrasive, while Richard Fish is a fearful and shaky Dr. Watson, whom I take my hat off to for the strong consistency of his role.
The result is an enjoyable piece that provides a pleasant evening for any audience. The audience will be persuaded to laugh with the character’s jokes and will be committed to try to be as sharp as Holmes in solving the crime. It is thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking, even if it is not completely polished.
Sherlock Holmes And The Invisible Thing is playing at the Tabard Theatre until 16 July. For more information and tickets, see the Tabard Theatre website.