Review: MISS HOLMES at Fells Point Corner Theatre

A Classic Mystery with a Feminist Twist

By: May. 02, 2024
Review: MISS HOLMES at Fells Point Corner Theatre
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Enter the foggy alleyways and well-appointed drawing rooms of Victorian London for some sly sleuthing and witty social commentary in Miss Holmes, currently playing at the Fells Point Corner Theatre. This Baltimore premiere of Christopher Walsh's homage to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's iconic creation serves up all the twists and turns of a classic mystery through the lens of feminism with lively observations on gender, class and emerging modern ideas.

The cast is energetic and versatile with some actors entusiastically playing multiple roles.The show's main charm derives from the chemistry of its central duo, Sherlock Holmes (Sharon Maguire) and  Dr. Dorothy Watson (Emma Grace Dunbar).  Maguire thoroughly embodies the essential elements of Holmes as a cerebral eccentric in dogged pursuit of the scientific method of crime solving. As a man, these peculiarities are tolerated. As a woman, they land you in an asylum. Maguire's Sherlock is irrepressible and unstoppable as she represents the resilience of all those intrepid Victorian women who dared to challenge society and embark on adventures in the wide world.

Dunbar is delightful as as Watson, a dedicated physician serving women's health in a time when women were barely acknowledged beyond the domestic sphere.  She walks a tightrope between tradition and progress as she fights misogynistic medical institutions and mulls over engagement with her clueless but well-meaning suitor, Michael Stamford (William Darden).  She is most entertaining when perturbed as she ping pongs between exasperation at rigid social structures and discombobulation at Holmes' uniquely audacious behavior. A nice historical touch: the duo of erstwhile detectives are first brought together by Watson's mentor, Dr. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (Lorraine Cuddeback-Gedeon), a real-life historical figure who was the first woman in Britain to qualify as a physician and surgeon.

When Holmes brother and guardian, tightly wound and super-secretive Mycroft Holmes (Andy Belt), decides to deinstitutionalize his wayward sister and allows her to live at 221B Baker Street under the observation of Dr. Watson, the adventure begins.  Just as Watson serves women's neglected medical needs, Holmes sees the need to help women in distress whose troubles are ignored by the police.  Enter Lizzie Chapman (Kate Crosby) who is getting trolled by an anonymous letter writer.  Next thing we know, Holmes and Watson are enmeshed in a tangled web of dangerous deceits and dubious characters including Lizzie's husband Thomas Chapman (Carlos del Valles) and his colleague at Scotland Yard, Geoffrey Lestrade (Dominic Gladden).  The parade of people passing through the story create quite the cast of suspicious, capricious and cranky characters creatively defined by actors nimbly stepping in and out of various parts.

Director Brad Norries deftly deals with these multiple players in multiple locales with an inventive set and well-rehearsed choreography.  The lighting by Adrienne Cassara, sound design by Heiko and costumes by Anna Hiser McGreevy are essential to evoking the time and place of late 19th century London. Special mention to the gorgeous tea sets who serve as characters in their own right.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created the OG detective procedural in 1887 which seems to have eternal life and innumerable iterations. Even our current digital age remains devoted to this classic story form. The exciting possibilities of science, the superpowers of logic and reason and the resolute focus of sharp, observational intelligence lose nothing in this gender-swapping version. 

Miss Holmes runs through May 19, 2024 at Fells Point Corner Theatre, 251 S. Ann Street, Baltimore, MD 21231.  For more information and to purchase tickets go to


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