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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: Elaine Stritch at Liberty

I thought it might have been anti-climactic to finally see Elaine Stritch at Liberty, which is on a limited return run at the Shaw theatre. I have had the album of the show for about many years, and the DVD of it too. But to see it live... Well... That was still something else... Ok so the show is a tightly scripted piece of work, but it also is the gold standard now for solo shows; self critical, great anecdotes (including the above one about working with Ethel Merman) and hilariously bitchy... It was worth seeing the 82 year old broad in tights belt out songs and show how a real pro does it... And she does it for two-and-a-half hours.

Going with Mark was interesting as (unlike me), he was well aware of Stritch from her television work in the UK, but normally we have totally different taste in theatre. He hated Sunday in the Park with George for instance and has taunted me about it ever since. So I was surprised that he was speechless at intermission, and it wasn't just because he had been sitting in the theatre for ninety minutes without a cigarette...

For me, being so familiar with the work it was almost tempting to want to help prompt her with "Agnes De Mille!" while she was struggling with the name of who choreographed the musical Goldilocks... I left the audience participation to others however... My only quibble with the show was the fat queen behind me who decided that "Why do the Wrong People Travel?" from Sail Away was a sing-along... That's the trouble with these shows... It isn't the performers but the audience you have to be wary of...

Stritch had an afternoon session today with Elaine Paige as well which surely must have been fascinating to have witnessed and hopefully somebody has blogged about it. Stritch's show runs through to Sunday at the Shaw... And it is worth seeing more than just once...

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