There are very few seats left in Inverness Eden Court’s Onetouch theatre. Old and young (and plenty in between), file in. Stuart Fortey’s Holmes and Watson: The Farewell Tour has tapped into something of the moment – the timeless appeal of Arthur Conan Doyle‘s stories, combined with the devoted following of the TV series, perhaps? We may never know. One thing is certain, it has drawn a crowd.
The sparse set, lit by a single lit vintage lamp sets the tone. A play within a play, this is part satire and part homage. There are references aplenty for the discerning Conan Doyle nerd, while keeping the (at times very wordy) script accessible enough for novices, too.
Holmes, played by Adrian Banks, literally snaps his fingers to effect light changes, which is entertaining and creates a Brechtian self-awareness throughout – an excellent touch. Both he and Liam Nooney’s Watson dip in and out of various characters with ease and give nods to panto and melodrama for good measure. It is a shame that Holmes’ narration sequences don’t quite project enough to reach the very back of the audience over the sound. Broadly speaking, though, Ben Homer’s theatre tech does add significantly to the effectiveness of the play.
Holmes and Watson: The Farewell Tour captures the “bickering couple” dynamic between the main characters. This John Watson has a particularly large chip on his shoulder, which serves to set up a final plot twist. Sherlock’s obsession with arch-enemy Moriarty is also familiar territory which delights those in the Sherlock-know. In terms of stagecraft, the play is sparse but imaginative, with chairs, stools, a ladder and boxes doubling as fireplace, lighthouse and the infamous Reichenbach Falls.
The script is dialogue-heavy and at times the pace could have slowed a little, but there is no doubt that this play has a lot to appeal to fans of the genre: preposterous presumptions, unlikely solutions, incredulous outcomes and plenty of detective lingo.
Elementary? Probably not. Entertaining? Without doubt.