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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 Revisit: La Cage Aux Folles

Sometimes it is good not to be the first to see some things. In the case of the first preview of La Cage Aux Folles I saw in November 2007 it was hard to tell what would become of it. Particularly since many technical problems (like curtains not coming up and so forth), made it hard to watch. Well last year it transferred to the West End and became one of the big hits of 2008. Having finally caught it in a proper theatre it is easy to see its appeal. Some updated observations:

It is a family musical (of sorts) and the enjoyment of the show probably depends on how much you believe the performances by the two male leads. In this case, the run now has Roger Allam and Philip Quast in the lead roles and they can come up with the goods. Within moments from when they appeared on stage and started arguing you could believe that they were a couple who had been living together for over twenty years.

The group I was with were initially disappointed that Graham Norton had finished his run, but by the end of the show were glad they saw real actors and singers, even if there wasn't the novelty and curiosity factor of such stunt-casting.

The musical is still quite long, but the performances of this cast (particularly Allam), will make you overlook the fact that you don't get to intermission until around 9pm. The dancing is still scary but I was sitting back enough not to be intimidated by it (or by Quast's ad libs with the front row tables).

The music ranges from the sublime to the sub prime, and while it doesn't have a big dazzling bus and a deafening soundtrack like in Priscilla, it has a lot more heart. A show definitely worth another look. Good tickets are available at the usual outlets such as the Official London Theatre TKTS booth...

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