Sherlock Holmes – The Final Curtain

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Reviewed by Matt Forrest

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️

If I had a pound for every incarnation there has ever been of Sherlock Holmes on either the big or small screen, then I’d be a very wealthy man indeed. However, for his celluloid endeavours, Holmes has seldom trod the boards. Surely the world’s number one consulting detective is ripe for a turn on the stage, and writer Simon Reade has undertaken this task with mixed but entertaining results.

In Sherlock Holmes: The Final Curtain, it’s early 1920’s and we find Holmes (Robert Powell) and Dr Watson (Timothy Kightley) apart from one another. Watson is entering the brave world of broadcast radio, telling the world of his adventures with the super sleuth, whilst Holmes is a broken shell of his former self, riddled with arthritis and living a reclusive life keeping bees on the Sussex coast. With the discovery of a dead body on Holmes’ private beach, the sudden appearance of Mary Watson (Liza Goddard) and the fact that its 30 years since Holmes last encounter with nemesis, Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls….something doesn’t quite add up. In addition Holmes’ legendary powers of deduction seemingly failing him and his growing paranoia that someone is out to get him, is it time for him to come out of retirement and crack one final case?

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This interesting, entertaining, if unremarkable production could be so much more. It takes a look at old-age, retirement, and how your body and mind can fail you when you need them the most. Also the issues of coping with an ever-changing world. You cannot help but feel more could have been done to explore Holmes’ vulnerability. That said, I found the plot engaging, with some neat little twists and turns, and fun ‘tips of the cap’ to the source material and its creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Powell is solid and engaging as Holmes, giving a seemingly effortless performance; you just want to see him make more of Holmes’ paranoia. Goddard is equally good as Mary, giving her strength and steel. The scenes between Goddard and Powell are a treat as they spar with one another; these scenes certainly highlight the undeniable chemistry between the two leads.

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The supporting cast are solid; Anna O’ Grady puts in a fun turn as Miss Hudson, whilst Roy Sampson is clearly having a ball as Mycroft Holmes. I do think more time could have been given to Kightley as Dr Watson, there seems to be more that could have been put his way, instead he is left with nothing more than a narrators role: surely more could have been made of Watson’s relationship with his wife.

It is odd really that this show should be called the final curtain, as there were a few opening night nerves with the curtain which notably affected scene changes. Hopefully these snags will be ironed out for the productions remaining run.

Overall this was an entertaining, enjoyable night at the theatre, however you can’t help but feel that there is a more interesting story ready to burst from the pages onto the stage. Certainly, worth seeing, but one that won’t live long in the memory.

Sherlock Holmes – The Final Curtain is on at the Opera House until 28th July, tickets available here.

Relatively Speaking


Relatively Speaking copyright: Nobby Clark

Alan Ayckbourn delivers a rip roaring comedy of errors in one of his early plays, Relatively Speaking. Currently on tour around the UK, the King of Farces work is a genius piece of writing that doesn’t fail to amuse almost 50 years after it first took to the stage.

The latest production stars famous faces Robert Powell and Liza Goddard as middle-class husband and wife Phillip and Sheila whose leisurely Sunday afternoon gets interrupted by a young man with a huge case of mistaken identity.

Set in the 60s the play opens to reveal a cramped bedsit where we find new lovebirds Ginny (Lindsey Campbell) and Greg (Anthony Eden).  Ginny is busy getting ready to visit her parents, whilst boyfriend Greg becomes increasingly annoying as he quizzes her over mysterious phone calls she has been getting, along with deliveries of flowers and chocolates.


Ginny and Greg copyright: Nobby Clark

Lindsey Campbell and Anthony Eden are superb as the young couple both creating well rounded characters and delivering huge dualogues with ease. It’s often hard to keep the audience’s attention when there are only two actors onstage for such a lengthy time but Campbell and Eden manage to keep you transfixed and eager to find out what is going to happen next.

Peter McKintosh does a great job of the set design, capturing the period with garish yellow print wallpaper that wouldn’t look out of place on a sixties record sleeve and posters highlighting the popular films of the time like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and A Hard Day’s Night. There is an awkward scene change when we move from crammed city bedsit to the picturesque countryside involving a full curtain closure and music for at least a couple of minutes, so much so you feel it might be an early interval. It’s quite a dramatic move for director Robin Herford to make and does jar the action. However, as the curtains eventually re open, you can appreciate why this is necessary as there’s an impressive backdrop of a detached house complete with French doors, patio, and garden furniture.

This signals the action moving to the upmarket home of Philip and Sheila who are enjoying reading the Sunday papers in the garden.

On press night Liza Goddard was unable to play the role of Sheila so understudy Sarah Simpkins stood in for her, doing a sterling job. It’s not often nowadays to see productions that have understudies for every role but Relatively Speaking does just that with a full set of actors available should the need arise. Simpkins facial expressions are priceless as she tries her best to fathom why young Greg has turned up on their doorstep and even more so when Ginny follows soon after. The laughter from the audience is constant, especially as you move into the second half of the play and the farcically action reaches its heights. Robert Powell demonstrates his acting prowess playing the ageing businessman who delights in winding up both his wife and those around him with dry wit and amusing frustration. There’s a moment when it looks as if Powell will corpse at the hilarious antics on display but the Salford born actor shows his professionalism and manages to hold it together.


copyright: Nobby Clark

Watching Relatively Speaking was the most fun I have had at the theatre in ages. Prepare to leave with sore sides from all the laughing you do during the two hours it is on stage. Thoroughly enjoyable, the play runs at The Lowry until Saturday 22nd October.