BWW Reviews: SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE FINAL ADVENTURE Opens at Arts Center of Coastal Carolina
Mystery fans will delight in director Russell Treyz's sharp, stylish rendering of SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE FINAL ADVENTURE, currently playing at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina in Hilton Head. Treyz, a veteran director and Drama Desk Award winner, sets a brisk pace for the action and extracts much humor from the script by contemporary playwright Steven Dietz.
Recipient of the 2007 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Play, Dietz's script is based on an 1899 play by William Gillette and Arthur Conan Doyle. The plot includes all the elements that Holmes fans have come to expect: suspense, intrigue and witty dialogue, along with the added bonus of a romantic subplot that centers on Holmes falling in love with an opera singer who is the victim of a blackmail plot.
Leading the ensemble of eight performers, Atlanta-based actor Michael Strauss makes the character of Doyle's iconic detective seem tailor-made for him. Tall, lanky and elegant, he fits the physical stereotype of the role to perfection. Strauss lends wit and immense likeability to the role, in addition to masterful comedic timing and keen intellectual clarity.
Playing the role of the female lead Irene Adler, Chiara Motley gives a winning performance as the opera diva who steals Holmes's heart. Motley embraces the singer's showy mannerisms to great effect, but counterbalances her external staginess with genuine emotion and vulnerability.
As Dr. John Watson, R. Bruce Connelly ably sets the show's tempo in his function as narrator. Hiis energetic performance and wide-eyed excitement help establish and maintain a sense of danger and suspense throughout the show. Another cast stand-out, Wesley Mann plays a range of small, but precisely drawn roles with aplomb.
The production serves up a visual treat, with showy period sets by Brian Riley and gorgeous costumes by Diana Griffin. As befits a preview performance, press night was marked by a few small mishaps, including a set piece that toppled over and a few bobbled lines of dialogue. Perhaps the most notable flaw, however, in this otherwise outstanding production was the unevenness with which the company handled the British dialect. Since the program does not list a vocal coach, this deficit is perhaps understandable but no less irritating to British mystery fans. Overall, however, the production offers a first class evening of entertainment.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE FINAL ADVENTURE runs through October 20 at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
PHOTO: Michael Strauss and R. Bruce Connelly as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Courtesy of Arts Center of Coastal Carolina.