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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

Sinewy encounters: Meat @theatre503

Meat is an engaging exploration of relationships power and consent by writer Gillian Greer. Characters are cut and dissected like the animal carcasses hanging in the background of this production. With emotionally engaging performances, it's a gripping take on modern relationships and reconciliation with the past. It's currently playing at Theatre 503.

It is set in a concept restaurant where meat is the only thing on the menu (vegetarians and vegans can go fuck off). There are simple table settings and fine wine. And some animal carcasses in the background. It's a hot spot to go to in Dublin (well butcher restaurants are fashionable in London anyway). Max (India Mullen), a blogger and writer is there to meet the owner and ex-boyfriend Ronan (Sean Fox). She's there to tell him that she's put in her forthcoming book an account of the night she was sexually assaulted by him. But she's also there wanting answers.

From the start, the expectations are misaligned. Ronan thinks she is there to show her regret for breaking up with him and he wants to show off how far he's come. But Max is there to inform him she is putting an encounter from their past in her new book. And also ask why he raped her.

It's a subtle and nuanced piece of writing where over a series of courses and scenes the conversations veer from happier times to trauma. The food and drink are either thrown to the floor or smeared on the walls. It highlights the messiness of the night and what the two are navigating.

Mullen is compelling as the initially self-assured Max who transforms over the piece. Fox is a revelation as he projects both the successful restauranteur and lad can throw a table across the room.

Alongside the couple is the restaurant manager and new partner of Ronan, Elinor Lawless. She initially serves as the comic relief, but she's also the validation for what transpires.

Directed by Lucy Jane Atkinson, Meat is at Theatre 503 until 14 March.


Photos by Alex Brenner

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