Police Inspector Lestrade (Trystan Luck) tells Sherlock Holmes (Jason Steele, right) and Dr. Watson (Paul Sutherland, centre) about a murder in A Study in Scarlet, at the Nickle Studio. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Review: It’s elementary, my dear Watson: A Study in Scarlet is a success

CAT’s season opener is adapted from Arthur Conan Doyle’s story by local playwright

A ‘body’ has been found with blood stains, but no visible wounds, in Red Deer’s Nickle Studio.

It’s a good thing the world’s greatest detective is on the case in Central Alberta Theatre’s season-opening instalment of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

A Study in Scarlet, the first Holmes story in a series adapted by local playwright Albertus Koett, is a highly enjoyable stage mystery. It opens Thursday, Sept. 14, for a three-night run in the small theatre on the second floor of Red Deer’s Memorial Centre.

At Wednesday’s dress rehearsal, Sherlock Holmes (as portrayed by Jason Steele) came across much like writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle conceived him: Confident, bordering on cocky, introspective to the point of myopia, and well, extremely, even rudely, preoccupied.

Steele has mastered that squinting-into-space look that Holmes adopts whenever his brain is trying to scientifically process information that boggles Scotland Yard.

How does Holmes know, upon first meeting Dr. John Watson (Paul Sutherland), that the doctor has served in Afghanistan and has a gambling penchant? Watson is understandably baffled.

It’s all in the details, the Baker Street detective pompously explains — he simply sees what others do not.

The 14 actors in the cast do well in creating interesting characters, and adopting English inflections (a few come by theirs naturally). However, speaking more slowly is important to allow the audience to process relevant information — particularly for Sutherland’s Dr. Watson, who narrates.

A motley assortment of urchins, coppers and toffs are portrayed in a show that also relies on a spot-on technical crew.

Some stand-outs include Steele, Sutherland, Lorraine Stuart (as landlady Mrs. Hudson), Trystan Luck as police Inspector Lestrade, and Mark Fraser as Stamford.

One could claim that no one can be as perpetually perfect as Holmes — but that’s like saying that no one really talks as poetically as Shakespeare’s characters. While suspending disbelief is in order, this stage version of A Study in Scarlet, also directed by Koett, is worth a trip back to Victorian times, whether you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan, or just like a good yarn.

Since the play’s run is mostly sold out, a 2 p.m. Saturday matinee was added, with tickets available from the Black Knight Ticket Centre. Local musicians Morgan McKee and Curtis Phagoo and Nathan Danser will take turns playing before the play begins.

A Study in Scarlet closes Sept. 16. Look for a continuation of the Adventures with three one-act plays in February and another full-length installment in June. (For more information, please visit: Facebook/theadventuresofsherlockholmes).

lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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