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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

Streaming immorality: Is He Musical?

To coincide with LGBT history month, a digital stream of 'Is He Musical?' is available to stream. A new short musical by Jude Taylor, it covers the secret life of queer friends who partied in 1930s London and is available to stream now until 6 March.

Just like the other phrase, "friend of Dorothy," "Is he musical?" is code. After all, it's from a time when the police could arrest you some vaguely defined immorality. The piece doesn't explore why being musical is code for being gay or queer, but a response on Quora from a straight ex-military musical loving man is as good an explanation as any. The respondent suggests that musicals emphasise emotions, which parallels gay men who stereotypically live a flamboyant life.  

So with that in mind, the piece is set in London's West End in the 1930s. Lawrence (Barry O'Reilly) arrives on the scene and befriends Wilfred (Teddy Hinde). But the parties and self-indulgent lifestyles can't hide the differences that still exist.

It's hard to be too critical on a piece that has come to life in a year and was due to open at the Vault Festivals earlier this year until the thought of theatrical events staged in airless railway arches during an Omicron outbreak put paid to that. So instead, we have a semi-staged live stream, which previously had a short run at The Other Palace. 

Viewing it as a first draft, it would be great to see the piece make more of the relentless sunniness of Lawrence and the deadpan realness of Wilfred. A put down or two, dry sarcasm, the occasional slap. All would help explain this unlikely friendship. 

There's a story there. It just needs a bit more bitterness and a bit more bite. Directed by Matt Powell, Is He Musical is available to stream until 6 March.

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