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Sherlock Holmes - The Last Act (Tour - Salford)

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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Sherlock Holmes has returned to his rooms at 221b Baker Street, London after being in Sussex enjoying retirement for two years for the funeral of his old friend, Dr Watson. Set immediately after the burial, this one man shows sees Holmes, (Roger Llewellyn) reminiscing over the years he had known Holmes, from first meeting him right through to his passing.

All the action takes place in the sitting room of of the famous Baker St address with Holmes addressing the dead Watson as if he is still there. Recounting their first encounter and their decision to lodge together, how they came to be a crime fighting unit, intimate tales of discussions had, thoughts and feeling exchanged and personality traits that irritated each other sees Llewellyn creating all the characters with varying degrees of success.

Demonstrating a variety of accents skilfully and with minimal props, Llewellyn plays Holmes, Watson, the landlady and Holmes’ father amongst others however as the piece progresses this becomes increasingly irritating as a wide number of ancillary characters are referred to and created however few are distinct enough to be memorable and over the course of the play they all become quite similar and repetitive.

Llewellyn’s Holmes is quite unpleasant, arrogant, cocksure, full of self importance with an inflated ego which makes it difficult to warm to the character on stage and engage with the dialogue. Despite the fact we are lead to believe Holmes’ is mourning the loss of a dear friend, the vast majority of the dialogue is Holmes’ reliving tales about himself, with the occasional passing reference to Watson at irregular and infrequent intervals.

This becomes somewhat tedious and is a weakness in the writing I feel. As an audience member it feels like being stuck at a party with the one guest everyone avoids as they just wish to talk about themselves at length; oblivious to the reactions of the listener.

The use of the occasional sound effect should strengthen and support the dialogue and help to set the scene however unfortunately on this occasion, the sound effects often drown out the dialogue and are used to excess, causing annoyance rather than enhancing the performance.

There is little doubt Llewellyn works very hard for the 90 minutes as the only cast member, however I cannot help feeling this piece would be much better suited to radio to do it justice.

Although sure to be a hit with Holmes’ fans, the piece feels drawn, unimaginative and one-dimensional for those without a fanatical interest in anything featuring his deer-stalker hat, pipe and magnifying glass.


- Ruth Lovett


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