Tag Archives: James Seager

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Hung Parliament


Online via www.sherlockimmersive.com

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Hung Parliament

Online via www.sherlockimmersive.com

Reviewed – 23rd February 2021



“a hugely enjoyable alternative to bringing audiences together during the pandemic”


At a time when every evening feels the same, it becomes increasingly difficult to find ways of focussing on our direction and knowing where to go or what to do. Particularly when the road maps we are handed are either vague, or else they just point us towards a destination that seems too far away. It is refreshing, then, to be handed, on a silver platter, something a bit different. ‘Les Enfants Terribles Theatre Company’, known for immersive productions such as “Alice’s Adventures Underground” and “Marvellous Imaginary Menagerie” have resourcefully adapted their unique style of storytelling for the online age we have been forced to enter during this past year.

“Sherlock Holmes – An Online Adventure” has evolved from a live version of a similar previous production; “The Game’s Afoot” at Madame Tussauds in 2016. In this new online experience, the audience is invited into a virtual world to become the joint protagonists in what is best described as a mix of board game and murder mystery. Forced to go online by the pandemic, this is an innovative way of keeping creatives active and people engaged in the theatre world, even if the lines are blurred between ‘theatre’ and ‘game show’.

The show is subtitled; “The Case of the Hung Parliament”. Sherlock Holmes had been called away to solve another case, out in some indeterminate wilderness, so Dr Watson is left in charge. It is far from ‘elementary’ to Watson, so he recruits us as private detectives to help him solve the case. And we have just over an hour in which to crack it.

The Home Secretary, The Foreign Secretary and the Lord Chamberlain, have all been found hanging, in their own chambers. Each victim died on their birthday, and on that day had received a card with a mysterious quote written in it. The Prime Minister, it appears, is the next on the list of victims. Watson (a thoroughly convincing portrayal by Dominic Allen) briefs us all with a list of suspects before we collectively go off in search of clues. Oliver Lansley, the Artistic Director of Les Enfants Terribles, has said, in a recent interview, that “the fun of a whodunnit is usually not the answer; it’s the journey”. If you embrace the show with that spirit, then you won’t go wrong. The clues are sometimes hopelessly obscure but, on Zoom, we confer and throw theories into the pot, seeing things through different eyes. As Holmes famously quoted: “When you have eliminated the impossible; whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

The team have joined forces with the virtual reality company LIVR to create a 360° world in which we search for the hidden clues. It is a kind of adult version of the ‘Secret Path Books’ you would read as a child in which the outcome is determined by the choices you make. We have the chance to interview the suspects too and, before we point the finger and name the accused, Sherlock himself (Richard Holt) beams onto our screens guiding us towards a unanimous verdict. “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact”. Time is running out, so our scrambled minds reach a majority decision before Holmes tells us we are right. Or wrong.

There is nothing deceptive about the intentions of this company to provide a hugely enjoyable alternative to bringing audiences together during the pandemic. That they succeed is an obvious fact.



Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography courtesy Les Enfants Terribles


Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Hung Parliament

Online via www.sherlockimmersive.com


Last ten shows reviewed by Jonathan:
Rent | ★★★★★ | Online | November 2020
Right Left With Heels | ★★★★ | Online | November 2020
Ute Lemper: Rendezvous With Marlene | ★★★★★ | Online | November 2020
Salon | ★★★ | Century Club | December 2020
The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk | ★★★★ | Online | December 2020
The Dumb Waiter | ★★★★ | Hampstead Theatre | December 2020
The Pirates Of Penzance | ★★★★★ | Palace Theatre | December 2020
The Elf Who Was Scared of Christmas | ★★★★ | Charing Cross Theatre | December 2020
A Christmas Carol | ★★★ | Online | December 2020
Snow White in the Seven Months of Lockdown | ★★★★ | Online | December 2020


Click here to see our most recent reviews


The Trench – 3 Stars


The Trench

Southwark Playhouse

Reviewed – 16th October 2018


“a slick, impressive show, so long as you don’t dig too deep”


As the only tunneller awarded a Victoria Cross in the First World War, William Hackett provides inspiration, storyline and main character (renamed Bert) for this play by Oliver Lansley. Despite his heart condition, Hackett enlisted in late 1915. A few months later he was denied leave to visit his 14-year-old son, who had lost a leg in a mining accident. Then, on 22nd June 1916, he was trapped underground with four comrades by a German mine blast. Over several days he helped rescue three but died going back for the last.

In this already cheerless saga, the amputation is replaced by news from home of a baby lost in childbirth, heightening perhaps Bert’s motivation to save his much younger colleague. To ramp up the melodrama further, the journey unfolds via a solid hour of iambic pentameter, spoken mostly by Bert (Lansley himself) as he scrapes and writhes through a claustrophobic set, aided by the multiple stage skills of Edward Cartwright, James Hastings and Kadell Herida, who play his comrades. The entombed ensemble is accompanied by the brooding presence stage left of the show’s composer Alexander Wolfe riffing dolefully on guitars, with sad melodies on sundry instruments occasionally aided by the multi-talented Hastings.

If this sounds unremittingly gloomy, it is. On the upside, The Trench is the work of Les Enfant Terribles, a theatre company with its own brand of showmanship and production design. Samuel Wyer provides an explosion of visual ideas and techniques, which provide the energy needed for an otherwise plodding tale. Shadow puppetry is used especially well to depict sepulchral columns of doomed troops; high tension wires and projections combine to create a cinematic overhead camera effect as Bert stumbles through the mire of the battlefield. The team also depicts the horrors that Bert encounters with a series of demonic puppets resembling the rotting carcasses of rats and horses, culminating in a red dragon, a reference to the Red Dragon crater by which the area is still known.

It’s hard to think what William Hackett would make of all this. Most likely he would enjoy the technical flair along with everyone else and may have recognised, too, the Music Hall style rhyming monologue, sustained from ‘A species on extinction’s brink’ all the way through to ‘The flickering flame of fate has faded’. Hackett might even have recognised Oliver Lansley’s actor-manager function but if so, probably wouldn’t have recognised himself. Hackett’s photos online suggest a less commanding figure than the one portrayed and a more vulnerable performance would have raised the emotional engagement hugely.

The glorification of WW1’s futile sacrifices can become a divisive subject especially at this time of year, but there’s no escaping that this is a slick, impressive show, so long as you don’t dig too deep.


Reviewed by Dominic Gettins

Photography by Rah Petherbridge


The Trench

Southwark Playhouse until 17th November


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Bananaman | ★★★ | January 2018
Pippin | ★★★★ | February 2018
Old Fools | ★★★★★ | March 2018
The Country Wife | ★★★ | April 2018
Confidence | ★★ | May 2018
The Rink | ★★★★ | May 2018
Why is the Sky Blue? | ★★★★★ | May 2018
Wasted | ★★★ | September 2018
The Sweet Science of Brusing | ★★★★ | October 2018


Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com