Reviewed for London Born & Bred by Jeremy Simmonds
Written & Directed by Mark Shanahan
Marylebone Theatre – 24th November – 7th January
If you’re after thrills, spills and fast action over Christmas, then it’s likely you’ll find ample TV movies to satisfy: if, on the other hand, your tastes are for more traditional and edifying forms of entertainment, then your family could do far worse than booking tickets to the Marylebone for Mark Shanahan’s skilfully-dovetailed A Sherlock Carol. This highly-original production melds the evocative worlds of two of the city’s most beloved creations in a manner that maybe poses the question as to why this hadn’t been done before.
Before a minimal yet effective set, the players transport us effortlessly to a London perhaps murkier and less-forgiving than the capital we know now – yet somehow nobody will leave feeling alarmed or disturbed by the intriguing mystery as it unveils itself. Indeed, many might likely be ‘there’ well ahead of the tale’s denouement, but none of this really matters: this is ultimately a cheery, feelgood affair, as warm and welcoming as a slice of mince pie and a glass of mulled wine.
The splendid Holmes (Ben Caplan) and rumbustious Scrooge (Kammy Darweish) that develop before us are very much the jovial and reformed characters that emerged from Doyle and Dickens’s classic tales, with the true spirit of Christmas at the heart of the show’s message. Gentle but intelligent humour is plentiful, the absence of obvious smut making A Sherlock Carol the ideal alternative to the annual panto. But regardless of age or size, all in attendance will surely depart feeling satisfied by ‘Watson’ offer here.
Yes, even Tiny Tim.
Jeremy Simmonds 1/12/23
Rudolf Steiner House
35 Park Road, London NW1 6XT