The Secret of Sherlock Holmes @ Hollywood Fringe

Fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic “consulting detective” will get all weak in the knees over this show. Playwright Jeremy Paul combed through the 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories and the 4 novels, plucking out scenes, moments and commentary from which he fashioned an investigation into one of the great unsolved mysteries of the Holmesian canon itself – the relationship between Holmes and Doctor John H. Watson.

Originally written for Jeremy Brett, the actor regarded by many as quintessential Holmes who, from 1984 to 1994, played the role for Britain’s Granada Television, the piece succeeds on two levels. For those familiar with the tales, it plays like “221B, Baker Street’s Greatest Hits”; while those who are less acquainted with Doyle’s writing will probably be surprised to find that far from being the bungler that Nigel Bruce made him out to be Watson is a war hero and a good man to have with you in a pinch.

John Mawson is Holmes to Mario Vernazza’s Watson and what a splendid pairing they make. Both men capture the nuances of their respective character’s personality as well as the play’s span of some 13 years from their first meeting in 1881 (A Study in Scarlet) until Holmes’ miraculous return after having faked his death at the Reichenbach Falls (The Adventure of the Empty House). Director Amir Korangy moves the play along at a steady clip and uses his actors skillfully. This production satisfies on so many levels that is serves as a testament to the talents of Korangy, his actors, and the playwright himself.