Sherlock Holmes and the Poison Wood
P Burton-Morgan and Ben Glasstone
Watermill Theatre and Metta Theatre Productions
Watermill Theatre Newbury
The adventures of crime-busting Sherlock Holmes have been widely adapted for film and television and now as a new, bold, modern rock musical, written and directed by P Burton-Morgan with music by Ben Glasstone. It has its world première at the Watermill Theatre in collaboration with Metta Theatre.
Adapted from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, Sherlock Holmes and the Poison Wood is set in modern day London with all the dependence on social media platforms and concerns of climate and ecological issues at its centre.
Dylan Wood is impressive as the guitar playing, rapping young Sherlock who, together with his landlady and fervent nutritionist Dr Amanda Watson, an engaging performance from Me’sha Bryan, who has built up huge numbers of social media followers all prefaced with hashtags, are a dynamic crime-fighting duo.
Activist Yorri Tramaly (Em Williams) is unhappy about the unexplained death of her friend at the infamous Oakenwood crisp factory and visits Sherlock to persuade him to take on the investigation as themed in the song, “Elementary”.
They accept the case and Sherlock decides to go undercover and infiltrate the camp. He suspects that his arch-nemesis, Jan Moriarty, powerfully played by Gillian Kirkpatrick, is behind a dastardly plan to take control of the world. So, “the game is certainly afoot.”
However, when the eco-warriors come down with food poisoning, Sherlock becomes the main suspect and is arrested by doughnut-loving police inspector Lestrade in a delightful comic performance by Richard P Peralta featuring a song about “Biscuits”—it’s hilarious.
All the actors are accomplished musicians with Jimmy Chambers as the band leader, and he also plays the role of Zephyr. Loren O’Dair plays the violin beautifully as well as the character Sasha.
There is a strong, unexpected mother-daughter link and the production's sustainable credentials are admirable as all the set, props and costume have been made from second-hand materials and will be passed on after the production.
Special mention for Matt Powell’s inventive projections and captions that create the spirit of the production so well in this daring, gutsy musical.
Reviewer: Robin Strapp