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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 3, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 49
A perfect case of Sherlock Scrooge
Arts & Entertainment
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A perfect case of Sherlock Scrooge

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Sherlock Holmes and the
Case of the Christmas Carol
Taproot Theatre Company
Through December 30


It turns out that Sherlock Holmes and A Christmas Carol go together like peanut butter and chocolate, or milk and cookies. It's such a natural pairing that it's a wonder that no one else has written it before! Yet, here we are in 2010, and the first guy to do it is local playwright John Longenbaugh.

Taproot Theatre was going to have this world-premiere last season, but the unfortunate arson of their storefront building made that impossible, so they rescheduled for this season. No matter. It's the right time of year for the piece. Of course, you know the story. Conan Doyle's Holmes is crotchety and is visited on Christmas Eve by ghosts who show him just how awful he is and why he should change his ways (just like Dickens' Scrooge).

At first, perhaps Sherlock Holmes is a strange choice to substitute for Ebenezer Scrooge. He's all deduction and logic, of course, though his character definitely could fit the Scrooge model. Holmes was never very nice. He always led with his head and never his heart. Longenbaugh has concocted an explanation for Holmes being even more crotchety than usual by having him return from dispatching his mortal enemy, Professor Moriarty, and becoming a recluse who doesn't even want to solve crimes any more. He's more interested in chemical experiments.

Holmes is in danger of losing even his best friend, Dr. Watson. What kind of future is before him? Professor Moriarty appears to him to warn him of the after life of despair that Holmes might face if he stays on this path. Holmes tries to dismiss this as a dream or a hallucination brought on by drugs. He finally deduces that he might actually have seen a ghost. It's an amusing process to watch Holmes reluctantly accept that he's getting ghostly visitation.

Another pleasure is Terry Edward Moore's performance of Holmes. One of Seattle's most dependable talents, Moore was actually the actor Longenbaugh had in mind to play the role as he wrote the script. Moore can convey all the supercilious hauteur that Holmes has, and also the cracks into his humanity as Holmes realizes he must change his ways, and the humility to make that transformation feel complete.

Director Scott Nolte selected an eager support cast, which plunges into the spirit of the enterprise by playing multiple roles with gusto. They include Stephen Grenley, most notably as Dr. Watson, genial and good-hearted; Pam Nolte as the offended but kindly landlady; and David Dorrian, Alex Robertson, Aaron Lamb, Jesse Notehelfer, and Eric Riedmann.

A rigorous sound design by Mark Lund brings the sounds of turn-of-the-century London to life, and lighting by Jody Briggs supports the spooky haunting. The set design, usually excellent, this time created Holmes' celebrated Baker Street offices, but left the major portion of stage empty. Holmes is left to look quizzically at nothing when ghostly relocations occur. It left a feeling of wanting something more.

All in all, an admirable blend of books that surprises in its feeling of complete rightness. Kudos to Longenbaugh for a tightly written script that hews closely to both authors' intentions. For more information, go to www.taproottheatre.org or call 206-781-9707.

Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.

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