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Review: MISS HOLMES at David S. & Anne V. Howard Studio Theatre

Review: MISS HOLMES at David S. & Anne V. Howard Studio Theatre

The game is indeed afoot in this compelling mystery that does Sherlock proud.

Written by Christopher M. Walsh in 2016 and inspired by the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Miss Holmes is a gender-bending theatrical fan fiction that adds a fascinating re-imagining of the main characters in this Victorian-day mystery. Enter Miss Sherlock Holmes (Helen Sanford) and Dr. Dorothy Watson (Victoria Flounders) What? Women doctors? Women detectives? How absurd!

The game is indeed afoot! We are placed in London, England 1881. Foreboding, anonymous letters are delivered to the newlywed wife Lizzy Chapman (Starr Mandell) of a corrupt Scotland Yard investigator Thomas Chapman (William Ashburn) leading Lizzy to seek help in solving the mystery of who is behind such writings. Miss Sherlock Holmes and her new companion Dr. Dorothy Watson come together as two forward-thinking intelligent women to uncover the conspiracy surrounding Lizzy's husband whose past wives have died of mysterious consequences. Ah, but like any good mystery, there are mysteries surrounding the mystery that also need to be solved!

Sherlock needs a good mystery to solve with a keen mind such as hers, especially after just being released from an asylum, placed there by her older brother Mycroft (Martin Nicholas). He can't keep up with her cunning mind and doesn't have the time or patience to "manage" her. Sherlock's new friend Dr. Watson has her own issues working for the only hospital in London that employs female doctors. Their combined brilliant minds make for great sleuths. Even Sherlock's stoic brother Mycroft sees worth in Dr. Watson noting she tempers Sherlock's shenanigans with an intellectual calm. He offers her a room in the Holmes house with himself and Sherlock at no cost, if she agrees to "spy" and report back to him on his sister's doings. Although she agrees, the good doctor stays loyal to Sherlock and joins her on adventures breaking into people's homes - searching for evidence, shooting poor Edwin Greener (Thomas Finn) and various other mischievous notions.

There are several surprises in this script, as usual with mysteries, more murder, more mayhem, that keep the production moving along. The cast does a wonderful job with the well-designed interchangeable set, cast doublings, and furniture rearrangements. Under the direction of India Marie Paul each actor added their own touch to create the personality traits of the character(s) they portrayed. House management/production team Amanda Schlachter, Craig Smith, and Timothy Bourn are incredibly talented at juggling many roles and tasks at once. Kudos to the entire cast and production staff for pulling together this fine production, particularly following the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. You did Sherlock proud.

State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate and baccalaureate degrees. SCF THEATRE presents four or five shows annually. These comedies, dramas, and mysteries are presented in the David S. & Anne V. Howard Studio Theatre, which is located in the SW corner of the Neel Performing Arts Center. Theatre productions are staged by professional directors who also serve as adjunct and full-time faculty. Auditions are open to SCF students and community members. For more information on the theatre program and upcoming shows visit www.SCF.edu/Theatre.



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