Once you accept that Tim Norton’s new Sherlock Holmes play isn’t a conventional mystery but rather a set of elliptical conversations between Holmes and Watson, it becomes a largely enjoyable affair. Nothing much happens and all the action – such as it is – is contained in the front parlour of 221b Baker Street. Indeed, the biggest mystery seems to be whether Holmes has been outside or not. For the most part, Watson waffles while Holmes gets high on opium.
Yet static and small-scale as the piece certainly is, it’s also frothy good fun. And very atmospheric – with the stray fingers of a pea-souper permeating the nicely-detailed set. It does feel a bit like ‘Sherlock: The Sit-Com’ and wilfully ignores the expansive interpretations we’ve seen lately on the BBC with Benedict Cumberbatch and the big screen with Robert Downey Junior. Here the very capable actors Nico Lennon (Holmes) and James McGregor (Watson) go for traditional characterisations and succeed in forging a warm and winning two-some – especially when practicing the tango together.
There are some nice jokes and though slight, there is something decidedly cosy about being in the company of the great detective and his stout-hearted sidekick while the winter winds blow outside. At the end there is a twist that will divide audiences, but in some ways the sudden lurch toward action feels like a necessary evil to bring things to an end. Modest then, but perfectly decent fare for Conan Doyle fans.
The Final Revelation of Sherlock Holmes is on at the Pleasance Theatre until 2 March 2014. Tickets £9-£13.50. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.