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Review: Fakery foils 'Sherlock's Last Case'

December 19, 2012|By Philip Brandes
  • Inspector Lestrade (Patrick Burke), Dr. Watson (Bert Emmett) and Sherlock Holmes (Chris Winfield) face the final problem of Sherlocks Last Case.
Inspector Lestrade (Patrick Burke), Dr. Watson (Bert Emmett) and Sherlock… (Sherry Netherland )

A threatening letter from the son of the late Professor Moriarty spells trouble for the world’s most famous detective in “Sherlock’s Last Case” at the Lonny Chapman Theatre, but alas in this particular case the game’s on the wrong foot.

There have been plenty of successful reworkings of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, but Charles Marowitz’s 1984 parody is not among them.

Conan Doyle’s iconic creation is rarely apparent in the preening, snarky caricature portrayed here by Chris Winfield. Reducing Holmes’ penchant for minutiae has comic potential, but when he remains clueless to obvious plot points, the whole point of observation in the service of deductive reasoning is lost.

Instead, his primary talent lies in insulting his long-suffering, passive-aggressive companion and biographer, Watson (Bert Emmett), his annoyingly ditzy housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson  (Hersha Parady), the bumbling Inspector Lestrade (Patrick Burke) and a mysterious damsel-in-distress (Allison King); however, name-dropping characters and episodes from the Holmes canon do not confer as much authenticity when sloppy inaccuracies abound in the references.

Furthermore, under Larry Eisenberg's direction, Winfield’s leaden, unwavering tempo lacks the acerbic inflections for the convoluted tongue-lashings that are arguably the script’s strength.

Winfield also designed the handsomely detailed Victorian drawing room set, but since the paint on it is already dry we face the less desirable alternative of watching endless amounts of smug, self-congratulatory exposition surrounding a plodding series of fake-outs within fake-outs that lack any internal logic or coherence. Then again, as the original Holmes so presciently observed, when you have eliminated the impossibility of a salvageable plot, only implausibility remains.

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“Sherlock’s Last Case”

Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood.

8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends Jan. 13.

$22. (818) 763-5990 or www.thegrouprep.com.

Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes.

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