Civic Theatre, Darlington – 7 July 2015
Arriving in Darlington this week, Brian Clemens weaves an interesting and quite tangled tale in “Sherlock Holmes and the Ripper Murders.” During the Autumn of 1888, London is plagued by a rash of terrible murders all being committed by Jack the Ripper. Sherlock Holmes soon becomes embroiled in the investigation and learns that there is more to these murders than meets the eye.
Its a interesting tale, using the Walter Sickert/Royal Marriage angle to tell this interpretation. But with all theories pertaining to the Ripper this version is easily as plausible as any other.
The first half of the play is very slow but gathers momentum in the second half reaching a crescendo of a finale and nice neat ending. The way it plods along at first is like the slow pacing of Sherlock’s mind as he slowly fits together the clues and ideas and once one bit comes together the rest tumble into place – an ingenious piece of writing.
On a whole, the story is very nicely executed. The music, sound and lighting effects heighten suspense and the simple but effective set helps to set the scene nicely . The acting is also very nicely done too. Samuel Clemens makes for a wonderful Sherlock Holmes, giving him depth and personality. George Telfer is very nice as Watson. Threatening to write his memoirs. Actress Lara Lemon is very convincing as Miss Katherine Mead, a medium who acts as Holmes’ assistant in this venture.
Michael Kirk’s Netley, Andrew Paul’s Sir William Gull and Neil Roberts’ Anderson are all convincingly evil and whilst much is made of the “brotherhood” to which they all belong, the author was very careful not to mention the Freemason’s by name.
Katy Dean is muti-talented playing a variety of different street walkers and Kim Taylforth’s Mrs Hudson is very Mrs Doyle-esq with her continuing need to make tea.
There are niggles, the show descends into the realm of Monty Python with a scene including a blind beggar and there is far too much screaming from women who have had their throat cut. But there is a lightness and humour and this theory on a classic story is most enjoyable with some 5 star performances
In Darlington until Saturday 11th July and on tour around the rest of the UK