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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

Mother and son: The Busy World Is Hushed @Finborough

Family and faith is at the forefront of The Busy World Is Hushed by Keith Bunin. The characters here have their faith tested, gained and lost over the course of the piece. It's having its European Premiere at the Finborough Theatre.

There's Hanna (Kazia Pelka), a widowed minister and bible scholar. She's received a recently discovered gospel and engages the help of writer Brandt (Mateo Oxley), to help her turn her research into a publication.

As they start work her only son Thomas (Michael James) returns home from a trip out in the wilderness. And Brandt and Thomas take an almost-instant liking to each other.

But Brandt has just discovered his father has a brain tumour. And Thomas is still searching for reasons why his father died before he was born.

So against a religious backdrop, the scene is set for a family drama. Hannah can offer wise words to Brandt, but can barely manage her relationship with her son Thomas. Brandt who has questioned his faith and facing the loss of his father, is looking for a safe space. While Thomas argues that his carefree approach to life is all part of God’s plan.

James and Oxley form a believable bond as the unlikely lovers of the piece. As Hanna, Pelka is a calm and thoughtful presence over the chaos of the men in the story.

Max Dorey’s design of the small study with stained glass windows adds to the intimacy of the piece.

The title of play comes from a line in a prayer by John Henry Newman. It's a prayer for rest at the end of the day. There’s enough drama going on to need a prayer for rest, but it’s a thoughtful and reflective piece.

Directed by Paul Higgins, The Busy World Is Hushed is at the Finborough Theatre until 25 November.


Photos by Scott Rylander

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