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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

Bump in the night: Botallack O'Clock @ORLTheatre

Botallack O'Clock brings to life the creative struggles of Roger Hilton in a funny and dreamy production. Insomnia has never seemed so inspiring and lonely as the dead of night comes to life.

Towards the end of Hilton's life he turned to producing works using poster paint on paper. He worked mostly throughout the night on these works, along with writing letters to his wife and various other musings. This piece brings together these items to explore his struggles and his demons.

The title of the show comes from a poem by W.S. Graham, "Lines on Roger Hilton's Watch" and refers to the dead of night.

We are introduced to Roger lying on his bed. There is a bottle of whisky nearby and pots of paint, discarded paper and other rubbish is strewn about the floor. Magically the radio suddenly comes to life and is offering Roger the chance to be on Desert Island Discs.

As Roger, Dan Frost cuts a lanky and awkward man fumbling around in the darkness moving from painting to musings about pickles. It is an intriguing performance as he moves about the space that is his tiny room. One moment he is talking about music and the next he is talking about his experiences as a young man in France. And George Haynes as the man on the radio proves an equally entertaining foil.

Written and directed by Eddie Elks, you feel as if you get a real sense of Roger and his struggles as art, women and past experiences collide. Adding to the atmosphere is the evocative lighting by Christopher Nairne and set design by Ken McClymont.

Botallack O'Clock runs at the Old Red Lion Theatre through to 6 February.


Photo credit: Production images by Zanna Wharfe

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