Adventure, romance and comedy – all crammed into an exhilarating tale with a handful of amazing deductions.
‘The Sign of Four’ is the second tale of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. At 221B Baker Street, Mary Morsten arrives requesting help from the great Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr. Watson to solve the mystery of her missing father. Sherlock and Watson take the case, and together they unravel a plot involving stolen jewels, corruption and murder!
This performance of Sherlock Holmes was presented by the BLACKEYED THEATRE Company at the Connaught Theatre in Worthing, and I’d like to kick start this review by praising all the work that went into the show.
Everyone did a marvellous job at presenting a thrilling tale about one of the best fictional detectives in history. The writing, the acting, the directing, the costume, the music – every single person involved in this production was on their A game. The whole evening was just a lot of fun, and I think that’s what you need to make a good crime thriller – dark plots with a heavy dose of adrenaline fuelled entertainment.
Nick Lane does a very good job at creating a very well paced script that intrigues and thrills the audience.
The relationship between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson is key in the writing, and Nick does well at establishing the relationship between our two protagonists – two men who find each other fascinating despite their obvious differences.
I’m glad the writing didn’t fall into the trap of making Sherlock a simple, one-note character super-genius and John Watson a comic-relief numpty who just asks questions all the time.
Here we are shown what exactly makes these characters fun to watch. Sherlock is cool and really clever, but deep down he has passion and emotion like any other man, he just hides it really well, and Dr. Watson is intelligent in his own way (he has great medical knowledge) and is lead by his emotions, and these opposites between the two men is what makes their relationship so dynamic and engaging.
The performances from all the actors in the show were outstanding!
Luke Barton plays the great Sherlock Holmes and he was firing on all cylinders. He nails the wit and the sarcasm and most importantly he is terrific with the deductions. You can just tell that Luke is having a whale of a time on the stage and because of that, I was having a whale of a time watching him.
Joseph Derrington gives a tremendous performance as Dr. John Watson. One of the things I loved was how John became the narrator of the show, like he was in the middle of writing the events of the case in his journal, but instead of writing he turned to the audience, guiding them through the story from his perspective, and Joseph did wonderful at keeping us on edge.
Every other actor gave incredible performances, there was no weak link in my eyes, everyone was just buzzing with energy that brought all the characters to life and made me believe every single one of them.
Direction & Staging:
To put it simply… the directing was STELLAR!!!
What I loved about ‘The Sign of Four’ was how minimal and effective the set was. All they had was a few chairs, a few tables, and two pillars, so thinking about it, they had very little set. But how they used what they had to represent a change of scenery was handled very well and was one of the strongest elements of the show (my favourite moment being Holmes, Watson and Mary Morsten riding along in a horse and carriage)
I don’t have much criticism, apart from a little nit-pick. There was a moment in the second act where a story is being told from the point of view of one of the characters (played by Zach Lee, who does really well, no knock against him), and I felt the pacing drag a little, it went on for quite a bit where I was missing our two main characters. I personally felt it could’ve been a moment where we could see the story being told, but we see it within Sherlock’s minds-eye from his Baker Street seat, piecing the puzzles together as the story is unfolded to him.
The costumes were a delight for my eyes as they helped me to feel that I had been transported back to the Victorian era.
We also had live music which assisted the performances brilliant, especially in the moments of Sherlock making his deductions.
‘The Sign of Four’ was great fun, I highly recommend it. It’s a real treat that’ll have you thrilled from beginning to end.
‘‘The Sign of Four’ result = 9/10