Tag Archives: Samuel Wyer

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

 

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The Box of Delights
★★★★

Wilton’s Music Hall

The Box of Delights

The Box of Delights

Wilton’s Music Hall

Reviewed – 5th December 2018

★★★★

“this endlessly inventive production delights in bewitching us at every turn”

 

To arrive at Wilton’s on a dark winter’s night is to open a veritable box of delights even before the performance begins. There is something magical about making your way there; about the lights streaming from the windows of this shabby-genteel 19th century frontage in an otherwise sparsely-lit patch of East London. Stepping inside is like stepping into an alternative reality; a feeling compounded yesterday evening by the delicious, festive smell of Christmas spices. All this served as the perfect introduction to Piers Torday’s theatrical adaption of John Masefield’s classic children’s book, The Box of Delights.

The book, written in 1935, tells the story of Kay Harker – orphaned in a fire six years prior to the action – and his extremely adventurous few days staying with his guardian and two other children in the run up to Christmas. In time-honoured Edwardian fashion, the three children are left alone and have to foil the Machiavellian machinations of some dangerous adults and save the day. This time, dark magic is on the loose, and nothing less than the future of Christmas itself is at stake. To add to the fun, Masefield also sprinkles the book with references to some of the zeitgeisty thrills of the thirties – a gang of jewel thieves, machine guns and jazz.

As evidenced by the extraordinary success of the Harry Potter stories, magic has not lost its power to entrance, and this endlessly inventive production delights in bewitching us at every turn. Tom Piper’s production design is terrific, and the lighting (Anna Watson), video (Nina Dunn) and sound (Ed Lewis) work together in perfect harmony to immerse us in the story’s captivating blend of wonder, menace and Christmas cheer. So much of this production’s success depends on the element of surprise, that too much description would be detrimental to its power to entertain, but suffice it to say that some of the show’s most memorable moments involve Samuel Wyer’s marvellous puppet design. The puppets are fabulous in themselves, and are brought to life by the cast in some unexpected ways throughout the evening. Special mention must go here to Molly Roberts’ wonderful skill in bringing Cole Hawlings’ frisky terrier so perfectly to life.

The eight-strong cast perform with brio throughout, and drive the play forward with a tremendous amount of appeal and energy, which helps to cover the occasional moments in which the script loses pace. Theo Ancient’s Kay, though occasionally over-earnest, is a likeable lad, and Samuel Simmonds is splendid as the sweet but slightly swotty Peter. Sara Stewart excels in the double role of Pouncer and Caroline Louisa – alternately oozing evil sex appeal and emanating slightly dotty charm – and Nigel Betts’ truly frightening Abner Brown provides the drama with a necessary dose of tangible menace.

The production is very much one of two halves, with the post-interval half substantially less wondrous and frightening than the first, and with many more nods to panto. This shift in balance seems rather a shame, and also somewhat takes away from the impact of the play’s denouement, but this is a small quibble. Overall, Justin Audibert (director) and his talented team have created a shimmering enchantment of a show, perfect for a Christmas treat.

 

Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography by Nobby Clarke

 


The Box of Delights

Wilton’s Music Hall until 5th January

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Songs For Nobodies | ★★★★ | March 2018
A Midsummer Night’s Dream | ★★★½ | June 2018
Sancho – An act of Remembrance | ★★★★★ | June 2018
Twelfth Night | ★★★ | September 2018
Dietrich – Natural Duty | ★★★★ | November 2018

 

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