REVIEWSREVIEWS BYTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

Sherlock Holmes

By Greg KramerSherlock_640x79

Based on the work of

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Directed by Andrew Shaver

Produced by Broadway In Chicago

At the Oriental Theatre, Chicago

Campy parody is more silly than serious

Sherlock Holmes arrives in Chicago for a week run. Why this completely lame production, which originated in Montreal, exists is the real mystery, not the manic anecdotal version of most of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s cases, now playing at the  Oriental Theatre through November 29th.

Playwright Greg Kramer and director Andrew Shaver’s decisions doomed and corrupted Doyle’s beloved “consulting detective” – one Sherlock Holmes. For those of us who have read Sherlock Holmes stories, enjoyed terrific productions of Holmes’ mysteries at local Chicago store front theatres, and viewed the many fine film versions of Doyle’s  detective, we cringe at we witnessed in this touring production.


This head-scratching production attempted to present Sherlock Holmes (David Arquette) as a flamboyant, insincere goof-ball more interested in outrageous behavior than crime solving. David Arquette mugs the role, adding flippancy and playfulness that becomes parody, then camp, and ultimately, silliness. That portrayal of the famous  character is sacrilegious to devoted Holmes fans! If you’re going for laughs through camp and parody, then do it, but don’t keep switching from melodrama to camp, as the tones and contradictory styles deface the mystery elements to silliness that degrades into stupidity.  Sprinkling dances and manic movements with a mugging Scotland Yard Inspector (the over-the-top wacky Patrick Costello) and a most inarticulate cast doomed the production early on.


Most of the cast spoke much too fast, as they ran their words together at machine gun pace, especially Renee Olstead. I quickly tuned out the show. When you make it so difficult to understand the dialogue  then you switch styles from mysterious drama to camp and irrelevant theatricality, you risk losing your audience. So many people were turned off to this production that I witnessed folks walking out during the first act with scores more leaving at the intermission, with others leaving late in the second act.

When silliness abounds, but audiences expects a classic Holmes mystery and the characters become inarticulate buffoons, folks comment by leaving the production early. While the action was furious, and some of the staging impressive, the uneven style and the contradictory tone simply wore out its welcome. We don’t care for Holmes or James Maslow’s Watson as we impatiently sit through the two and a half hour overproduced parody.

Not Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: November 24, 2015

For more info checkout the Sherlock Holmes page at

At the Oriental Theatre, 24 W, Randolph, Chicago, IL, call800-775-2000,, tickets $21 – $87. wed. Nov 25 at2 & 7:30 pm, Friday, Nov. 27 at 2 & 7:30 pm, Saturday, Nov 28 at 2 & 8 pm, Sunday,Nov. 29 at 2 pm, running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with intermission, through November 29, 2015