Vertigo Theatre’s Sherlock Holmes and the American Problem – Review

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My review of Vertigo Theatre’s Sherlock Holmes and the American Problem for GetDown.ca

Cast of Vertigo Theatre’s Sherlock Holmes and the American Problem shines

Sherlock is back, with an American Problem. He’s also brought a whole slew of characters with him, including his reliable friend Doctor Watson, for Vertigo Theatre’s closing show. Artistic Director Craig Hall has decided to end the season with a bang, featuring Sherlock Holmes and the American Problem by R. Hamilton Wright and bringing back Vertigo’s former Artistic Director Mark Bellamy to direct it. It stars Braden Griffiths and Curt McKinstry as Holmes and Watson respectively, and they both have big shoes to fill as previous productions of Sherlock Holmes have starred Haysam Kadri and Karl Sine. They both play their roles spectacularly, and add their own special twist to it. The set design and sound composition in this production all shine, making Sherlock Holmes and the American Problem a thoroughly entertaining evening, even if you’re not entirely sure how the pieces of the mystery all fit together.

The play tells of Phoebe Anne Moses (Charlie Gould) who tries to hire Sherlock Holmes (Braden Griffiths) to find her missing brother Solomon Moses (Nathan Schmidt). Holmes is reluctant to take on the case when another is thrown into his lap, the one of Charlotte Lichter (Arielle Rombough) an engineer who suspects her mole has been stolen. Then Sherlock’s brother Mycroft (also played by Schmidt) makes and appearance, an odd request and the mysteries start piling up. Throw in Phoebe’s bodyguard The Pinkerton (Graham Percy) and Major Ramsey (Kevin Rothery) who all seem to have something to do with the murders happening all over town, and you’ve got the making of a rather complicated mystery. Don’t forget the ever reliable Dr. John Watson (Curt McKinstry) and Mrs Hudson (Kathryn Kerbes), as they along with Devon Dybnyk round out the cast.

Following the series of events that make up the story of Sherlock Holmes and the American Problem is impossible. Nothing really adds up or is a grand revelation in terms of the narrative. Characters get murdered, Holmes follows clues that you don’t really understand even when it’s all revealed to you. The story isn’t engaging, because there are so many elements, it doesn’t quite make sense. The cast, along with the set design and sound design are the real stars.

David Fraser’s set design deserves applause. It is intricate and vast, with the centre being a rotating room that converts into Sherlock’s residence as well as Major Ramsey’s house. It’s innovative and well thought out, leaving the audience wondering how they are going to use it next.

Andrew Blizzard’s sound design and original music is also worthy of applause. It has those notes that immediately make you think ‘Sherlock Holmes’ without going over the top. Whenever the music is plays, it brings a smile to your face.

Vertigo has managed to assemble a cast whose versatility is incredible. There is McKinstry, who brings such earnestness and charm to Watson, having played a mafia boss in Vertigo’s last production. You barely recognize Percy as Pinkerton, as he is all physical presence; shoot first – explain later. Griffiths’ Holmes is admirable. He is quirky and neurotic in just the right fashion. The actor manages to bring his own brand of charm to the character.

Sherlock Holmes and the American Problem is a exceptional production. Don’t go for the mystery though. Go to be enveloped in that charm that you only get with Sherlock.

Sherlock Holmes and the American Problem runs until June 16. More information is available online.

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