Being a Reprint from the Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D.
By Nicholas Meyer
Adapted by Terry McCabe
Directed by Warner Crocker
At City Lit Theater, Chicago
Wonderful Sherlock Homes-type play rings like an Arthur Conan Doyle short story
Novelist and screenplay author Nicholas Meyer wrote The Seven-Per-Cent Solution screenplay for the film, and City Lit artistic director Terry McCabe adapted it for the stage. The Seven-Per-Cent Solution director Warner Crocker has returning players Adam Bitterman (Watson) and James Sparling (Holmes) in a smart, well-staged, and superbly acted Holmes mystery.
In this engrossing work, Dr. Watson attempts to cure Holmes’ cocaine addiction. Along the way, he reveals to us that everything he wrote in “The Final Problem” about Holmes’s duel to the death with his arch-foe Professor Moriarty was pure fiction. Come see what really happened. I’ll not give away too much, but we see Holmes as vulnerable addicted person on the brink of self-destruction. But his friend Watson intervenes to help save Holmes from disaster. He lures Holmes to Vienna into the arms of a doctor known as the “Austrian Specialist.” The famous doctor is Holmes’s equal when it comes to reasoning and problem solving.
Told as a memory play by Watson in 1939, ten years after Holmes’s death, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution is a well crafted story about addiction, personal redemption, and solving a mystery, of course, as the A.S, Holmes and Watson uncover a medical mystery and an undetected murder. While we think of Professor Moriarty, the master criminal, it is a German arms manufacture and his estate that centers here. We see the start of the European arms buildup (1890) that leads to WWI 24 years later. The German Count and the Kaiser are involved as the two super-thinkers (Holmes & A. S.) work together to help a young woman.
This terrific play demonstrates how much Watson is dedicated to Holmes and how, once he realizes he needs help, Holmes follows Watson’s suggestion to listen to the A.S. The entire cast was excellent, with Elliot Fredlund as Professor Moriarty and Adrienne Matzen as Nancy offering fine supporting work. With Lee Wichman as the A.S., together with Adam Bitterman and James Sparling anchoring the story with wonderful performances, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution becomes a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat entertainment. The Seven-Per-Cent Solution is fine theatre with fully developed characters and, of course, a clever mystery. The mystery character, A.S., will surprise and enlighten you. City Lit Theater sure does a nice job with Sherlock Homes mysteries. See this show!
Talk Theater in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: October 18, 2015
For more info checkout The Seven-Per-Cent Solution page at theatreinchicago.com
At City Lit Theater, 1030 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago, IL call 773-293-3682, www.citylit.org, tickets $29, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours, 20 minutes with intermission, through November 15, 2015