Based on the original by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
& William Gillette
Directed by Evan Jackson
Produced by Idle Muse Theatre Company
At the side project theatre, Chicago
Thrilling Sherlock Homes mystery unfolds as a summer treat!
Despite the intimate space at The Side Project, director Evan Jackson and set designer Dennis Mae have found a way (by use of Plexiglas panels with designs) and a black background to give atmosphere to evoke the eerie mystery that challenges Holmes. Mystery lovers (like me) quickly get swept up into this tale as Doctor Watson (Nathan Pease in a winning performance) announces the death of Sherlock Holmes. It’s 1891 and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wants to ‘kill-off’ Holmes so he can do ‘serious’ writing. Not so fast. Steven Dietz has adapted Doyle and Gillette’s work combining two short stories into a complex mystery that could end the famous detective’s life.
Watson takes us back to the time when Holmes is so engrossed with bring down arch criminal Professor Moriarty (Nathan Thompson) that he is willing to rick death to accomplished just that. Watson’s help is needed and accepted. However, just as that adventure is about to embark, a strange visitor to the Baker Street house arrives with a challenge. The King of Bohemia (Brian Bengston) asks Holmes to get back a photo of himself with former opera diva Irene Adler (the charismatic Elizabeth Macdonald) on the eve of his marriage to another.
Since Adler is a love fantasy for Holmes, he quickly accepts the assignment despite Watson’s regret. In a series of cleverly written and nicely performed scenes, we see how Professor Moriarty is involved and how things are mostly not what they seem. In pure Sherlock Holmes style (complete with wit and zinging one-liners), this engrossing suspense mystery unfolds with polished timing and terrific acting from the entire cast.
Luke Hamilton is the commanding yet vulnerable Holmes. Hamilton is articulate sporting just enough British accent and razor-sharp wit to be convincing. Nathan Pease is the lovable, loyal friend and aid who narrates the story. Elizabeth Macdonald is the dashing determined diva that falls for Holmes. Nathan Thompson is a delicious villain.
All the elements are present and this show delivers a playful romp that marks Sherlock Holmes mysteries as world class entertainment. Dietz and Doyle would enjoy this smart, intelligent and fast-paced mystery. Doing a mystery on stage is a daunting task yet the cast of Idle Muse Theatre Company delivers a polished production. This theatre troupe is a promising one. Who doesn’t love a fine mystery? This one is terrific.
At the side project theatre, 1439 W. Jarvis, Chicago, IL