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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

Opera: L'Heure Espagnole and Gianni Schicchi

In a week packed full of culture and goings on, Tuesday night's trip to the opera to see Ravel's L'Heure Espagnole and Puccini's Gianni Schicchi was a real treat. Well when giant cleavage greets you when you enter the theatre (it was on the curtain, not in the audience), you know it is going to be a bit of a fun evening.

Both performances and productions were excellent. Director Richard Jones (who also is responsible for Annie Get Your Gun at the Young Vic) and revival director Elaine Kidd manage to keep it bright and brisk. The opera singers even managed to show not only could they act but they had great comic timing too. Ravel's piece is not so much an opera, so it was nice to have it paired with Puccini's often hilarious and over the top melodrama. The aria O mio babbino caro is from this piece and sung delicately by Maria Bengtsson. Holding it all together was a great performance by Thomas Allen in the title role.

Worth catching and surprisingly not sold out... It has two more performances to go.

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