The legend of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson is a true phenomenon in popular culture, seeming to grow more powerful and release more energy over time. Perhaps it’s the sense of excitement and control that the deductive method creates, or maybe it’s just the yearning we all feel for that moment of clarity when clues become conclusive proof, but whatever it is, Holmes’s forensic model for crime fighting lives on in thousands of modern stories. Witness the myriad CSIs and their ilk, all derivative of the great detective, or even look at television’s Dr. Gregory House, whose name and attitude both reference Holmes.
Beginning on April 2, Circle Bar B Dinner Theatre will be performing Charles Marowitz’s play Sherlock’s Last Case, a funny/creepy drama that ought to be just the thing for fans of Holmes, fans of detective stories, and fans of the Circle Bar B’s intimate, hilarious theatrical tradition. And of course, as with every Circle Bar B play, a sumptuous ranch-style feast precedes the onstage antics. I spoke with Susie Couch, the executive director of the theater, about the show last week.
I know there are several styles of interpreting these famous roles. Which Holmes and Watson are we talking about this time? This Sherlock and Watson are patterned and flavored after the performances of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.
How did you find Sherlock’s Last Case? We saw the show in Los Angeles at the Actor’s Co-op, and we liked it, but our first thought was, “Could we find the actors?” Finally Dave [Couch] said, “I’ll play Watson,” and we committed to it, and then we were lucky enough to get Sean O’Shea to agree to play Holmes.
Is it a comedy or a mystery? It’s a comedy, but it is British, so it’s different—as in mysterious and creepy. The plot comes from a collation of several of the stories from different books and different parts of Holmes’s career. The setting in Victorian England lends it a certain atmosphere, but it also has the weird feeling of the Coen brother’s films at times—without the violence. Even though it is creepy at times, it’s still Circle Bar B suitable, which means that we may push the envelope, but only so that you laugh so hard you cry.
Who else is involved? We have Jean Hall as Mrs. Hudson, and William York Hyde as Inspector Lestrade, and a newcomer to Circle Bar B, Hannah Wolf, in the role of Liza Moriarty. Jim Cook is directing, and Jamie Burkett has built us a special set piece that is part of the show’s big twist. I won’t spoil the surprise.
Sherlock’s Last Case runs April 2-May 16 at the Circle Bar B Dinner Theatre (1800 Refugio Rd., Goleta.). For reservations and information, visit circlebarbtheatre.com or call 967-1962.