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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

Thinking out loud: 10 Nights @Bushtheatre

Shahid Iqbal Kahn's 10 Nights, currently playing at the studio space of the Bush Theatre, is about what happens when a young, carefree British Muslim man spends the last ten nights of Ramadan in a mosque. But it isn't a story about religion or radicalisation. It is a more straightforward journey.

Yasser (Zaqi Ismail) gets around in a tracksuit and sandals. He likes a drink, and he loves chips. A reluctant participant in the i'tikaf, he did it for his father and to honour his friend who died in a car accident. The reasons for the accident become more evident as the story progresses.

Left alone for long periods between prayers and fasting, it becomes the inner monologue of Yasser. And as the days progress with only his thoughts and a few smug fellow worshippers to keep him company, he realises he has to face up to a few things.

What it may lack in drama is made up in the detailed characterisations by Ismail of his father and friends at the mosque. There are also enough explanations about the prayers and Allah's 99 names for those unfamiliar with the religion to keep up. 

The production is a Graeae and Tamasha co-production that uses British Sign Language and captions alongside the performances. It's a simple staging but what is engaging is the storytelling and the scene-setting through both the detailed descriptions and Ismail's performance.

Directed by Kash Arshad, 10 Nights is at the Bush Theatre until 6 November. All performances are audio described, use British Sign Language and are performed in a relaxed environment. 

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Photos by Ali Wright 

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