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Sherlock Holmes And The Curse Of The Queen's Diamond: Review

We want to start the year tapping into local talent that’s lekker!

09/01/2017 04:59 SAST
Joshua Roberts / Reuters
The first clue is shown from a Sherlock Holmes-themed escape room in Alexandria, Virginia October 17, 2015. Escape rooms are the latest entertainment phenomena to seize the United States, where people break out of locked rooms using their smarts, or any that the friends, family members or strangers interred with them may possess. Picture taken October 17, 2015. To match Feature ENTERTAINMENT-ESCAPEROOM/ REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

It's elementary my dear Watson!

Putting your hand up to be noticed in theatre is getting tougher and tougher with entertainment increasingly accessible on so many different levels. At the beginning of any year, on local drama stages, there's not that much to choose from which can also encourage adventurous theatre makers.

For Robert Fridjhon, this was probably the challenge and one he and his fellow conspirators, led by director Alan Swerdlow, have pulled off with a flourish – and they have the audiences to show for it. Sherlock Holmes and the Curse of the Queen's Diamond (on at Pieter Toerien's Studio at Montecasino until January 15 before it moves for a run to Cape Town's Bay Theatre) follows Fridjhon's previous venture into this kind of caper when he tried to explain the meaning of the lyrics of Bohemian Rhapsody in a play titled similarly.

For those who like their entertainment live as well as lively, this is perfect fare.

In both, it's the madcap style, the writing that wraps itself around your mind for great battle while collapsing everyone, including those on stage into fits of giggles, the superb cast who are wildly running a marathon on stage while trying their best not to show it, all of which coalesces like the previous outing to work so well. It's about not trying too hard yet effortlessly telling an intricate story that in the end doesn't matter a jot. It's a coming together of all the bits and bobs that make this work.

For those who like their entertainment live as well as lively, this is perfect fare. And if you think it is all fun and games, you had better be on your toes to keep up with this Sherlock Holmes mystery as the vigilant inspector (Fridjhon both starring and writing) and his partners, Watson (Craig Jackson) and Mrs Hudson (Bronwyn Gottwald, also fellow writer) are all at improbable and exacting pains to explain the disappearance of one of the priciest diamonds in the world, the famed Koh-i-Noor from India, but now owned by Queen Victoria.

This gives the scriptwriters a chance to dabble in politics as they shoot some sharp arrows at colonialism while as an aside have a deliciously wicked running joke with our favourite down under nemesis amongst others. There's nothing like spinning a clever yarn and letting it roll out of control but with a tight rein to slip in the odd farcical moment yet never allowing the pace or the timing to unravel even the tiniest bit.

... it's perfect for those who want to start 2017 on an edifying but more importantly, entertaining note. It has a few days left in Gauteng before it travels to Cape Town. Catch it in either city.

These past few years, Fridjhon has discovered and developed his writing mojo and has found his sweet spot. It's going to be exciting to watch where he goes next. It's not just telling a good story and a delicious dialogue, it's also building a collective around him with Swerdlow the perfect directing honcho with his experience in this particular genre.

Add to that the physical pyrotechnics of Jackson and Gottwald's slick maneuvering in her different guises while Fridjhon tries badly to steer the more serious ship. It's a threesome at its best. And it's perfect for those who want to start 2017 on an edifying but more importantly, entertaining note. It has a few days left in Gauteng before it travels to Cape Town. Catch it in either city.

We want to start the year tapping into local talent that's lekker!

  • Sherlock Holmes and the Curse of the Queen's Diamond: An Unrecorded Case By Royal Request runs at Pieter Toerien's Studio at Montecasino from Wednesday to Sunday until January 15 and then at Cape nTown's Theatre on the Bay from January 18 to 28.