Saturday, March 5, 2016

SHERLOCK HOLMES: A WORKING HYPOTHESIS. Adelaide Fringe Festival 2016


 Sherlock Holmes: A Working Hypothesis.


 The Flanagan Collective.  Written by  Alexander Wright. Directed by Tom Bellerby. Presented by Joanne Harstone in co-production with Greenwich Theatre. The Queens. The Red Queen. Adelaide Fringe Festival 2016. February 13 – March 14.

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

Dominic Allen is Sherlock Holmes in The Flanagan Collective's
Sherlock Holmes: A Working Hypothesis.

The game’s afoot, and eccentric Teutonic Professor Selohm Socklehr (Dominic Allen) is about to give a lecture on the remarkable powers of deduction and analysis at the University of Melbourne. In walks the intrepid Dr. John Watson (George Williams) and the game is up. The anagram is unjumbled and before the audience stands none other than the elusive Sherlock Holmes himself. Oops! Sorry! I may have given the game away, but then there is a lot more to come, as Holmes and Watson, with the help of an unsuspecting audience, unravel the mysterious clues that may lead to the evil Nemesis, Moriarty.
Fans of the recent Sherlock series will be amused and intrigued by the Flanagan Collective’s, clever, ingenious and thoroughly entertaining spoof on Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters. Some will recognize the lines almost word for word from the television series, and the perilous situations in which Watson and Holmes and the audience find themselves. Even the arrogant, rude, supercilious and erratic master sleuth, who apparently taught Mao to swim, learnt the Dalai Lama’s real name and had dealings with the Caliph of Khartoum is not without his flaws. He may be alright with a violin, but the guitar and a Johnny Cash impersonation is not his forte.
Once again, the actors draw their audience into their adventure with participatory games. In their other show, Babylon, I found this ramshackle and token, a ridiculous attempt to engage a passive audience and stir them into political activism. In Sherlock Holmes – A Working Hypothesis ,participation is far better integrated into the action and the semantic game of Hangman, becomes immediately apparent as a cryptic analysis of vital clues that will lead to the unmasking of Moriarty in the Red Queen space of The Queens Theatre. Audience are invited to exercise their powers of deduction and piece together the words that will provide the vital clue.  The game has interest, purpose and provides challenging entertainment. I am less enamoured of Allen’s impetuous invitation for everyone to get to their feet and dance to the beat of Wipe Out.
Sherlock Holmes: A Working Hypothesis with Domiic Allen (Centre) and
George Williams as Dr. John Watson (Left rear) in the York Guildhall
Council Chambers,

Unlike the participation in Babylon, the games and the unravelling of the clues is integral to the plot and allows character to drive the plot forward. Such readily identifiable characters are played with familiar conviction, energy and a serious sense of fun. The result is an entertaining night of intrigue, mystery, suspense and enough bumbling to know that even the perfect sleuth can sometimes get things wrong, even with the straight man act of John Watson by his side.
And who does Lucy Farrett play? Could she possibly be…? Well that is something even more mysterious than Holmes’s survival from a plunge at the Reichenbach Falls.
I thoroughly enjoyed Sherlock Holmes – A Working Hypothesis. It is not only that I am a long term Conan Doyle fan. It is because this slight spoof is tightly constructed, well-acted and shameless good fun entertainment. It is an hour well spent in the company of the Flanagan Collective.

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