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Christmas Mysteries: A Sherlock Carol @MaryleboneTHLDN

A mash-up of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol and Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes would seem an unlikely pairing. Yet it provides a surprisingly fun Christmas-themed adventure. These two Victorian tales (albeit separated by about 40 years) provide the basis for an inspired adventure at Christmastime that just also happens to turn out to be a murder mystery as well. With lavish costumes, a few spooky set pieces and some good old-fashioned stage trickery with lights and a lot of smoke machines, it is hard to resist. It returns to the Marylebone Theatre for Christmas after a run there last year.  The premise is that after Holmes sees off the criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty, he is left adrift in London. People thought he was dead, and he might as well be. Disinterested in the misdeeds of other Londoners, Holmes has even given up on his friend Dr Watson. It's almost as if he has become a Scrooge. Or half a Scrooge, moping about shouting, "bah" in respon
Theatre: Too much of everything for a chilly night in London...

Saw The Far Pavilions tonight. It is a new musical based on the novel by M.M. Kaye, and was previously a BBC mini-series. Obviously musical was the next logical step. Hmmm... Unfortunately epic stories don't usually make for great musicals. For every Les Miserables there is Gone with the Wind or Shogun. This show seems to fall into the latter category.

Set in India it is a convoluted tale about love, the Raj and lots of other things. Being an epic melodrama, the story did get in the way of everything. It also didn't help that the music is not very good (a problem since it is mostly through-sung), the cast had difficulty with the music, and the stage kept spinning around. The spinning stage was a curious staging choice that had the effect of making most people in the front rows a little giddy from its overuse.

On the plus side however I thought the staging and some of the songs were quite good. And given that Bombay Dreams isn't playing in London for the time being it does have the corner of the Asian-themed musical market. Male lead Hadley Fraser had his shirt off at various points throughout the show as well...

It is still in preview and opens officially next week so no doubt changes will still be made. But half the group I was with left at interval so it isn't a good omen for the show. They didn't think much of Fraser's physique either (maybe a few more sessions in the gym before opening night would help). Actually the second half, free of all that messy exposition of the first was actually a bit better. The guy next to me thought it wasn't the worst show currently on the West End - he reserved that for Mary Poppins(!) - which goes to show you can't please everyone.

Overheard on Rupert Street after the show

Transgender girl to boy: So are you like, whatever, gay, like whatever, straight, like whatever, bi, like whatever?

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