Alumni and students present Sherlock Holmes comedy
By Cheryl Minns, Arts Editor
Detective Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson might not seem like the typical comedy duo, but in Adam Tatelman’s Sherlock Holmes and the Redheaded League, the team is laugh-out-loud funny. The play is being held in Douglas College’s Studio Theatre from January 26–28 and features students and graduates of the college’s theatre program.
Sherlock Holmes and the Redheaded League is based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story published in 1891. The play follows Hamish Wilson (Keenan Bender Johnston), a redheaded London pawnbroker who is hired by Duncan Ross (alumnus Levi Williams) to copy the encyclopedia by hand at the Redheaded League for £4 a week. He later discovers the league has dissolved and turns to Holmes (alumnus Tatelman) and Watson (alumnus Beau Picard) to solve the mystery of the league. After the detective duo visits Wilson’s assistant, Vincent Spaulding (student Noah Oryema), they call in Inspector Lestrade (student Christian Krushel) to catch the culprits and reveal the Redheaded League’s true purpose.
The actors perform the play in traditional British accents, although the story’s original dialogue is modernized with contemporary language and features improvisation and audience participation. Since some moments are improvised, it’s worth seeing the play more than once to see the different jokes in each production. For those interested in participating in the play, one audience member per show is invited to come onstage and apply for membership to the Redheaded League during a scene.
Sherlock Holmes and the Redheaded League makes good use of the limited space in the Studio Theatre, using the room’s two doors as part of the show and performing certain scenes around the multiple rows of audience seating. Those seated in the front row will almost feel like they are part of the final showdown with cap guns going off and a staged brawl happening only a few feet from their seats.
The sets are minimalistic with a few choice furniture pieces, which allows the actors to easily move from one scene to the next with all sets present on the stage. The play begins in Holmes’ residence—a table and chairs located centre upstage—where Wilson describes his first encounter with the Redheaded League, a scene which then takes place at Ross’s office desk located on the right side of the stage.
For the play’s climax, the actors redress the stage by placing three large boxes at the front for Holmes, Watson, and Lestrade to hide behind, then turning off the Studio Theatre’s lights so the three men’s flashlights are the only light source. Using the flashlights to light the stage cleverly draws audience members into the scene, making them feel like they are actually a part of the crime scene that is about to take place.
Sherlock Holmes and the Redheaded League will be performed at 8 p.m. on January 26–28 in the Douglas College Studio Theatre on the fourth floor of the New Westminster campus. The show is open to all ages, including students and members of the community. Admission is by donation.