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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

Talking pictures: Reputation @TheOtherPalace

In the dog eat dog world of new musicals, a brand new one has arrived at the studio space of The Other Palace. It’s about the dog eat dog world of writers and plagiarism during the switch from silent pictures to talkies. A story about a small-time hoodlum who passes off scripts as his sounds like an excellent premise for a show. And some good parts make up the show. But probably not enough to take this show further in its current form.

The good parts include the cast, which often high kicks and dances across the small stage. There’s Maddy Banks who plays Michelle. A young girl at a finishing school in France who spends her time in between learning how to be a proper lady writing her first screenplay. And Jeremy Secomb playing Freddy Larceny. A small-time crook, who passes off scripts as his own to Hollywood studios. And there’s Ed Wade as Archie the lawyer trying to trap Freddy in between making eyes for Michelle. Each of them have their moments throughout the piece.

Alas, Freddy Larceny is no Max Bialystock from The Producers. It would have been much more fun if he owed his success to little old ladies and stories of dubious quality. Secomb seems wasted in this role, spending a lot of time with his back to the audience sitting in a chair.

Michelle hasn’t written Springtime For Hitler either but instead some “Oscar-worthy” script, so that’s not much fun either. The piece seems to miss the potential that during the switch between silent movies and talking pictures, the quality of the work dived. Afterall people found it more novel to hear people talking crap over the sophisticated dialogue-free stories that had been created up to that point.

The music is tuneful and catchy, but the songs don’t move the story forward. And there’s too much interest in the love story over the other elements of the piece. But this piece seems to be a labour of love has had a long gestation period by writer/composer Alick Glass. Perhaps there’s time to shape it further into something more substantial.

With direction, musical direction and arrangements by Warren Wills, Reputation the Musical concludes its run at The Other Palace on 14 November.


Photos by Donato

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