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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Holmes & Watson at Play

I’ve already blogged here about the long history of Sherlock Holmes on stage. Now I want to recommend a not-so-new play that I just discovered.

Last month at A Scintillation of Scions in Maryland, I won as a door prize a copy of Lee Shackleford’s Holmes & Watson. It was first produced as a play at the University of Alabama in 1989 and went off-Broadway with Shackleford as Holmes in 1990.

I deeply regret never having seen the play, because reading it is a thrill. Using only the characters of Holmes and Watson, Shackleford reimagines the familiar story of “The Adventure of the Empty House.” The resulting drama is original, and yet canonical. It has mystery, gunfire, and crackling dialogue like this:

WATSON: I assume that after I went to sleep you decided to face Colonel Moran despite extreme exhaustion and fatigue, a large amount of alcohol and cocaine in your bloodstream, and a bullet-hole in your chest.

HOLMES: It seemed the local course of action, yet.

WATSON: You really ought to be locked up for your own protection.

As Shackleford sees it, the real mystery is why Holmes came back to London after his supposed death at the hands of Moriarty. We find out the reason in a very clever way, although Watson never does.

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