Actors bring out the classic Holmes dramaPublished 9:28pm Saturday, February 16, 2013
Column: Ann Austin, Live United
Does Sherlock Holmes have a heart?
In what appears to be his final case before retirement, Albert Lea Community Theatre’s aptly titled play “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure,” we get to see another side of the man behind the myth.
Holmes, played by David Behling, is what readers will recall from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous stories like “The Adventure of the Speckled Band.” Behling portrays an intelligent man dedicated to his work and full of astute observations that will make the audience burst out laughing at very random moments.
This Holmes is the real deal; not the overly confident, overly eclectic Holmes we have seen lately in movies and on television. When Behling’s Holmes states, “It’s elementary, my dear Watson,” it is part of his natural speech, not some catch phrase.
The play opens on a foggy London evening with shocking news that sets the tone for the remainder of the nearly two-hour play. Not everything is what it seems, nor is everyone who they seem. Just like the stories, we are led through a somewhat tangled maze of people’s perceptions with Holmes as the problem-solver and Watson as our guide.
We first meet Dr. Watson as he begins what will be (and is rightly so) his role of narrator. Jason Howland plays Watson and perfectly captures his character: Sensible, well-spoken and calm. Holmes’ description of Watson rings true when he tells him he is “the one fixed point in a changing world.” Howland’s measured speech guides us along a somewhat complicated storyline and provides a nice transition between scenes.
We find that Watson and Holmes have been out of communication for nearly six months and are brought together again when Watson receives a mysterious invitation to Holmes’ apartment. Holmes has been contemplating retirement, but is set to solve one last problem: ridding the world of his nemesis, Professor Moriarty. Holmes is excited to have a true adventure since he has been somewhat disappointed the criminal world no longer seems to have “audacity and romance.”
Ever the rational thinker, Sherlock Holmes does not appear to be a man who is drawn to the emotional side of human nature, but Behling’s portrayal helps us see glimpses of a man who is enraptured by the beauty and the gore of life. It’s a delicate balance, but this humanities teacher seems to be a perfect fit for the role of Holmes in his final days.
Moriarty is played by Josh Ausen, who is an ideal counterpart to Holmes with a sharp intellect and cunning peppered with unrestricted rage and no sympathy for the people he uses to do his bidding (or their victims).
Regardless of their very polarized ideals, Holmes and Moriarty share a great deal of respect and admiration for each other — Ausen and Behling portray this unique relationship well in their banter and battles.
Several strong supporting roles are found in former lovers, the king of Bohemia and Irene Adler, played by Mark Place and Raquel Hellman (a familiar face if you watch KIMT) as well as villians James and Madge Larrabee and Sid Prince, played by Mike Compton, Kristan Dye and Alex Dietrich Johnson.
These characters do a great job of bringing the story to life and keeping the dialogue fresh. They truly seem to enjoy their roles and take advantage of the energy of the play.
Hellman does a wonderful job of portraying a true “diva,” who is all heart, but tired of having it broken time and again and not afraid to show it. She serves as a source of inspiration to Holmes, who we gradually see open up about his true feelings. Hellman as Adler has some wonderful lines including a sharp remark back to Holmes that “a woman can never be solved!”
The set design works well with the flow of the play and does not distract. The costumes also fit with the late 1800s and draw the audience in to what life was like back in those days.
Overall, the play was very pleasant and fun to watch. Director Jerry Girton did an excellent job of bringing out the best for each actor in their role and making sure the details worked to the benefit of the story. One leaves with a sense of what true friendship is and how love, though often mistaken with foolish passion, is something that can stand the test of time.
The show continues next week with performances at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20, 21, 22 and 23 at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center.
Ann Austin has been a resident of Albert Lea for the past nine years. She has written poems and short stories since she was a little girl and has columns that run June through December in the Albert Lea Tribune. She has enjoyed several plays by ACT throughout the years and appreciated the opportunity to write a review.