Thursday, October 18, 2012


Rumpus Theatre Company at the Civic Theatre

"Life with Sherlock Holmes is never dull." So says Ian Sharrock's benign, bumbling, occasionally blustery old duffer Dr John Watson, friend and confidant to the great detective, who of course is striving to "rid the world of an evil too wicked to speak of".

John Goodrum's Study in Fear, however, like Watson's wardrobe, is almost entirely lacking in style, with a flat set, poorly lit, and the most ineffective steam train and hansom cab I've seen on any stage.

The story is based loosely on The Final Problem, so we have no Baker Street, but a journey from Kensington via Canterbury and Strasbourg to Reichenbach's fatal falls. Whitechapel and "Louis Stevenson" are name-checked too, setting up the original twist in the tail.

Nicholas Briggs makes a genial, convincing detective, though hardly a master of disguise, but the dialogue, and bridging narration, lack spirit or sparkle. David Martin played everyone else, including Colonel Moran, drafted in from a later story, and made a good job of describing the torrent and its tremendous abyss.

If you were expecting "the most nerve-jangling experience of your life", something like The Woman in Black, or perhaps something like The 39 Steps, then you might find A Study In Fear tame stuff, "an altogether different tale".

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