BWW Review: WATSON: THE FINAL PROBLEM at Online
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Tuesday 26th May 2020.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did not write the Sherlock Holmes stories as himself, an external author. Instead, he created another character to become the biographer of the famous detective, and wrote through him. In Watson: The Final Problem, Tim Marriott (The Brittas Empire, 'Allo, 'Allo) takes on the role of Doctor John H. Watson, in a piece co-written with Bert Coules (BBC's The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Cadfael, Rebus), adapting their play from the1893 story, The Final Problem, first published in The Strand magazine and contained in the collection, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Coules also directed the work, which features a wonderfully haunting theme, composed by Clive Whitburn, introducing the recording made by Marriott in isolation at home.
At the age of 34, Doyle had tired of writing tales about his creation, and was infuriated that Holmes had completely overshadowed and distracted him from what he considered to be his more serious writing. He chose to kill off Holmes, and he did so by having him die at the hands of his archenemy, Professor Moriarty, formerly a teacher of mathematics at a minor university, an evil genius, the spider in the middle of an enormous criminal web. Holmes and Moriarty had fought, and both had fallen to their deaths into the Reichenbach Falls. Holmes had paid the ultimate price for putting an end to Moriarty and his empire.
As the story, and the play open it is two years after the event, and little of the death of Holmes has ever been reported in the press. Colonel James Moriarty, the villain's brother, has been slandering Holmes, accusing him of murdering the innocent Professor. Watson can take it no longer, and he picks up his pen to set out the true details of that fateful encounter.
Marriott has done a remarkable job with the recording under such difficult circumstances, even including a good many sound effects to add further verisimilitude to the work. His group, Smokescreen Productions, were planning this as a live performance, which it will become, once theatres are able to operate at full capacity again. In the meanwhile, they have produced this audio play, presented with the request that listeners donate in order to assist them to continue with their work.
Marriott gets right inside the character of Watson, bringing forth that biographer's great respect and admiration for his good friend, Holmes. He proves to be a superb storyteller, capturing the excitement of the chase, creating pictures in the minds of the listeners that take us back to the end of the nineteenth century, and giving us an emotionally charged hour with some of the best-known characters in literary history.
In this faithful adaptation of Doyle's tale, Marriott takes Watson to his rightful place, centre stage, as we follow what is actually his adventure that involves and revolves around his friend, Holmes. Marriott's performance is authentic and demonstrates a real commitment to the character of Watson and the writing of Doyle. No fan of Holmes and Watson should miss this excellent production.
Once again, Tim Marriott has added another to his long and ever-growing list of highly successful, and very diverse, performances. Like Doyle's tales, that are impossible to put down, this audio piece proves impossible to turn off, and you will want to listen to it more than once.
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