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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: The Seagull

Friday night I caught The Seagull at the National Theatre. It is a new version of the Chekhov play by Martin Crimp that has been getting good notices but not so great audiences as they have been discounting tickets to get the punters in.

Juliet Stevenson as Arkadina the fading leading leady features in a great cast in a story about artists and the new Turks, unrequited and lost love. Her son Konstantin is a new writer and is in love with Nina but Arkadina's lover Trigorin steals her away. Meanwhile Masha is in love with Konstantin but it is unrequited. In between the high drama there are a lot of things unsaid but then again this is Russia and Chekhov.

The ending (spoiler to follow) left a lot of people dazed and startled when it ends in the suicide of Konstantin offstage with a loud bang. It certainly made me jump. Arkadina barely has enough time to scream at the news before the curtain came down. We all filed out of the theatre not saying much… Maybe the drama felt a little too real…

As for the title, it isn't actually a direct translation of Chekhov's original name. But all English translators have felt that it was more appropriate, particularly when Nina utters the line "I am a seagull". The alternate – "I am a puffin" – doesn't quite convey the same impact for a serious drama I suppose…

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