Sherlock Holmes: A Working Hypothesis
York Guildhall, August 14, 2014
After Witness For The Prosecution, York Guildhall is once again the perfect setting for an immersive play.
Produced by The Flanagan Collective in collaboration with Hartshorn-Hook Productions, it is dedicated to the witty genius of Sherlock Holmes.
Instead of adapting one of many Conan Doyle’s stories, playwright Alexander Wright has decided to experiment and has created an original, exhilarating sequel, following the apparent death of the detective.
As an audience we are invited to attend a lecture supported by the University of York and delivered by a moody and eccentric criminology professor. The theme is the supreme art of forensic practice, and in particular the analysis of the work of its unbeaten master, Sherlock Holmes.
We students can’t expect to fall behind the fourth wall in the comfortable and safe space usually occupied by the audience. From the start we are involved in exercises and tasks to perform on our own or with our neighbour.
We have to guess information from physical appearance and body language, we have to complete sentences and collect clues spread around the Guildhall, in books, posters, and hidden corners. We are even asked to dance during one of the most exhilarating moments of the play.
We soon discover Holmes (Dominic Allen) is alive as his dear friend and biographer John Watson (George Williams) runs to him and hugs him in relief and gratitude. But Holmes dislikes such vivid expressions of affection: he is a scientific mind, above average distracting emotions, capable of functioning at a superior level.
Holmes’ moodiness, his unexpected bursts of anger, impatience, joy, ambition, make him the charismatic character we all know.
Watson on the other side doesn’t hide his vulnerability, his love for Holmes, but also his will to live a normal life amongst other average human beings.
After having confronted his all time enemy Professor Moriarty, who finally appears in a surprising real identity, Holmes is confronted by a choice: living isolated ruled by his extraordinary habits and lifestyle, or coming back to earth, embracing feelings, people, relationships.
Ultimately a play which explores dynamics between friendship and ambition, heart and science, being larger than life versus being immersed in life.
The small cast does a great job in sustaining a complex plot and many changes in dynamics, with a very energetic performance by Dominic Allen, a more nuanced and emotional George Williams as Watson, and a confident mischievous Moriarty.
A play loved by adults and young people, who greatly enjoyed working together on tasks and having a central interactive role.
Sherlock Holmes: A Working Hypothesis is at York Guildhall until September 21