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The male gaze: Turning the screw

It's been a while since trips to the theatre. I've been busy. But it's nice to see that it's the creative process that is at the heart of Kevin Kelly's Turning the Screw. And what gives rise to it. It's a dramatisation of the creative process leading up to composer Benjamin Britten's premiere of his opera, The Turning of the Screw. With deadlines approaching, Britten seems stuck over melodies and unsure about completing the piece for its summer premiere. But the selection of twelve-year-old choirboy David Hemmings in the leading role of Miles within the opera is the spark that motivates him to complete the piece. And his presence may stir other feelings, too. It's currently playing at the Kings Head Theatre .  Britten's fascination with young boys has been the subject of a detailed book, Britten's Children. The book suggests that Britten saw himself as a young boy of 13. It's almost as if he saw himself as Peter Pan, albeit if Peter Pan was a

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 response to any festive greeting. Yet he feels that everywhere he goes, he is being haunted by Moriarty. Meanwhile, Scrooge (of the Christmas Carol fame) has been found by a doctor who suspects there was foul play. 

It helps to know your Sherlock and your Christmas Carol. Although given the number of productions of A Christmas Carol that run during December each year, following along for half of the story should be a doddle. But we get a flash of what makes Holmes so fascinating and the play so much fun, as he quickly sizes up the characters he meets based on small observations of their character. This is first evident when he meets the doctor. He determines that he was poor at an early age, and illness at the time could have killed him. The dead man (Scrooge) was his benefactor. In an instant, you realise this is Tiny Tim as an adult. 

When the doctor informs Holmes there was a diamond on its way to Scrooge before he died, there is just enough to spark interest in taking the case. Then, the story is off and takes the audience on a ride full of laughs, mystery, and mild peril.

A cast of six led by Ben Caplan as the grumpy Sherlock Holmes and Kammy Darweish as Ebenezer Scrooge centre the piece. The others, including Rosie Armstrong and Richard James, play various characters along the way. 

A Sherlock Carol is written and directed by Mark Shanahan and continues at Marylebone Theatre until 7 January.


Photos by Alex Brenner 

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