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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: House of Bernada Alba

Caught on Monday the National Theatre The House of Bernarda Alba - my second Lorca play in a week (although this one didn't have any Mexican male movie stars)... Actually it was an all women play with the translation by David Hare. It reminded me of "The Women" without the gowns. I was half expecting the line "Chin up, both of em" amongst all the bitchy banter. It didn't come, but there were plenty of talk about class, positions and deadly obsessions.

During one of the intermissions one woman quipped to another, "Oh it's good that Garry didn't come, it's such a woman's show" which is a pity as there is a very exciting passionate and (possibly Spanish) story amongst the banter. Penelope Winton plays the title character who rules a household of women with an iron fist (and occasionally a strap or a whip). There is high drama and the set consisting of a Spanish villa was quite impressive (and imposing from the front row). No story such as this couldn't finish without a bit of tragedy of course, but on the way it was a fascinating time. I wondered what the original must be like. In Spanish it must be pure explosive. The English women were fantastic but at times it was a bit of a sensible play for something that I felt was far more emotional and manic. In some ways with the pristine over-produced set and the smart costuming it was more of an embalming of the text rather than a production, but that's the National for you...

Incidentally there were men at the theatre (other than me), but most seemed to be gay. It must be a Frederico Garcí­a Lorca following... Shortly after he completed this play he was shot by Franco's sympathisers so you have to wonder what might have otherwise been...

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