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Friday, June 26, 2015

"The Play's the Thing" for Sherlock Holmes

"Adventure of the Copper Beaches"

There have been Sherlock Holmes plays almost as long as there has been Sherlock Holmes.

William Gillette’s eponymous 1899 melodrama wasn’t even the first. Two largely forgotten plays featuring Holmes appeared in 1893. And Conan Doyle himself the detective on the boards twice – in The Stonor Case (AKA The Speckled Band) and in The Crown Diamond: An Evening with Sherlock Holmes.

Over the past few years, I’ve seen at least five Sherlock Holmes plays. Two of them, with different scripts, were highly creative adaptations of The Hound of the Baskervilles. The others drew heavily on “The Final Problem,” “A Scandal in Bohemia,” and the Gillette classic. That’s true of most Holmes plays I’ve seen (Sherlock Holmes and the Suicide Club excepted).

I’m ready for something different. How about a play based on one of the great stories that has been overlooked by the playwrights. I suggest:

  •          “The Adventure of the Copper Beaches.” It’s a wonderfully Gothic tale featuring a creepy house in the country, a damsel (actually two damsels) in distress, a grinning villain, a psychotic child, and a vicious dog. The atmospherics could be great.

  •            “The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans.” My third Sebastian McCabe – Jeff Cody mystery, The 1895 Murder, revolves around a play called 1895 which is based on this story. Highlights include the presence of Mycroft, a burglary by Holmes and Watson, and Holmes tackling spies. It’s also a nifty mystery.

  •          “The Adventure of the Illustrious Client.” This one has another outstanding bad guy, some drama over Holmes being attacked, a nice assignment for Watson, two memorable minor characters (Kitty Winter and Shinwell Johnson), and a vitriol-throwing finale that no reader can soon forget.

Which of these stories would you like to see adapted as a play? What other stories of the original 60 do you think might work better? Remember – for a drama, the story needs to be dramatic. It also should be one capable of expanding beyond the narrow limits of the short story. I’d love to get your thoughts.


  1. Oh, my gosh--I commented on Facebook and then went to read this--"Copper Beeches" is the one I'm planning to adapt. Shh--keep it under your deerstalker.