15th October, No Comments
By John Watson
I was invited to see Roger Llewellyn in David Stuart Davies’ play “Sherlock Holmes – The Last Act“. This was a somewhat daunting prospect for me. The play is set in 1916 and Holmes has come back to our Baker Street rooms from his cottage is Sussex following his two years of retirement.
What has brought him back? My funeral!
Roger Llewellyn is the only person in this play though through his marvellous virtuoso performance we get to meet me (my middle name is apparently Horatio and I speak with a Scottish accent), Mrs Hudson (first name Martha and sounds like Janet from Dr Finlay’s Casebook) plus Lestrade and many others. He changes accent and persona quickly and with ease and there is much humour from David Stuart Davies skill with the Canon. The second half is somewhat darker, delving, with much conjecture into Holmes’ early life. Mysteriously, The Hound of the Baskervilles appears in the play after references to The Final Problem and The Empty House when it should be earlier but it suits the mood of the second half. I will not spoil your enjoyment by telling you how it ends but I hope you will be moved – I was!
David Stuart Davies wrote this play after seeing Roger Llewellyn’s first theatrical encounter with Holmes in an adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles. He wrote this solo drama specially for Llewellyn and the show premiered at The Salisbury Playhouse in 1999, won five stars at Edinburgh, was selected as one of The Top Ten Fringe Plays, and has toured world-wide ever since with over 550 performances so far!
The play explores the mind of the real man – not the thinking machine. An unexpectedly passionate and secretive man, with a cutting sense of humour (as I know all too well!)
Stripping away the infamous clinical façade, Holmes reveals fears, weaknesses, and the devastating consequences of the dramas of his formative years. The whole being ‘deduced’ from the ‘clues’ in the Canon.
Following the success of this play, Davies wrote a second Sherlockian venture “Sherlock Holmes – The Death and Life” which was premiered at Guildford in March 2008. This play deals with Arthur Conan Doyle tiring of what he sees as the intolerably arrogant Sherlock Holmes, and suggests that he created the malevolent Professor Moriarty to dispose of him. But the author’s dangerous strategy, combined with his passion for raising the spirits of the dead, has rather more bizarre and dramatic consequences than he bargained for!
Audio versions of both plays are available (see the links above).
David Stuart Davies has written extensively about Sherlock Holmes. His non-fiction books include:
- Holmes of the Movies (1977)
- Bending the Willow: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes (1996 and 2002)
- Starring Sherlock Holmes (2001)
- Clued Up on Sherlock (2004)
- Dancing in the Moonlight: Jeremy Brett – A Celebration (2006)
His fiction books include:
- Sherlock Holmes and the Hentzau Affair (1991)
- The Tangled Skein (1995)
- The Scroll of the Dead (1998)
- Shadow of the Rat (1999)
- The Veiled Detective (2004). Explores the relationship between Holmes, myself and Professor Moriarty
- The Games Afoot (2008)
He is the editor of several collections for Wordsworth & Collectors Library including:
He has written and narrated commentaries for the digitally re-mastered Basil Rathbone Holmes films.
If you get the chance to see it, please do. You will laugh and you may cry but you will not be disappointed!