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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: Death of a Salesman

Caught the 1999 Broadway production of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman last night. Its been playing at the West End for a few months now and it was well worth going to see it. I had read the play at school, seen a film version of it, and perservered through an amateur production of it, but seeing this was something else.

Brian Dennehy from the Broadway production was starring as Willy Loman (he also featured in such classic movies of the 1980s as Cocoon and Legal Eagles) but just as fantastic were the rest of the cast - especially Clare Higgins as the wife. Watching this play on stage you realise what an emotional wallop this gives you. It gradually builds and builds setting the scene in the first act, hinting at hope and an optimistic future along the way but by half way through the second act you can see Willy Loman's life unraveling into a horrible mess, and you watch him go all the way downhill.

There were other little touches in this production that made it such an eye opener. The production kept things brisk as well with a revolving stage and set that helped underscore the madness and weariness of Loman. Characters in his mind and in reality walk on and move off as they appear in his head. Dennehy throughout the play wears the same suit... It seems slightly ill-fitting and creased so Loman looks tired, worn out and obsolete. The office where Loman is fired is small and claustrophobic... They all added to this production...

Leaving the theatre you couldn't exactly say it was something to enjoy but it was something to admire. More than fifty years on the story of making it or not still rings true... Attention surely was paid by the theatre goers last night...

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