Sherlock Holmes sets the bar high for Oswego theatre season

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Director Mark Cole has once again succeeded in bringing a masterpiece to the Waterman Theatre. The Oswego State Theatre Department puts on a spectacular show in “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure.” Based on the novels written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the play adapts two of the Sherlock stories depicting the characters’ last adventures. The play opens in London in 1893 where Doctor John Watson reunites with his friend Sherlock Holmes after a time apart. Together they face challenges including a stolen photograph, a murder plot, deals with the King of Bohemia and an encounter with Holmes’ greatest adversary, Professor Moriarty.

“Our plays are selected by a committee of students and faculty,” Cole said. “We found this series to be well-liked and read through scripts for at least three different plays. This adaptation seemed the most accessible, and struck the crew as the most playable while testing their acting abilities.”

In regards to making this adaptation different from others Cole said, “This play has an episodic, almost filmic structure, but is wonderfully theatric. We worked to keep the basic setting minimal, and worked within the parameters of the script.”

The stage direction is exquisite in this adaptation. Scenes play out against a backdrop resembling a second stage. This proves effective, as characters seem to play out their roles in the past to the best recollection of Watson as he attempts to record the adventure in the present. Sets are constructed using a less-is-more approach that works well. Often cases and chests are rearranged to stand in for various objects. Special effects such as a canvas are used, though sparingly, to allow the viewer to focus on the dialogue and actions of the characters.

Nicholas Pike portrays Holmes perfectly, as a brilliant man often embroiled in a good puzzle. He gives the character a natural charisma that allows the audience to root for him without considering him too detached from those around him. Tyler Eldred, as Moriarty, is a great parallel to Pike’s Holmes. It is plain to see that he is every bit as intelligent as Holmes, but there is always a sense of danger about him. Eldred provides his character with a confident and almost playful personality; as if he is always sure he will win no matter his opponent. Jacob Luria plays Watson, displaying his loyalty to Holmes and performing duties as narrator in an effective and engaging manner. Jennifer Pratt gives her rendition of Irene Adler, a graceful charisma that rivals Holmes. Other characters include James Larrabee, Madge Larrabee and Sid Prince played by Sam Berman, Michelle Strauss and Josh Jarvi respectfully. These three serve as the henchmen to Moriarty, and each actor gives their character a distinctive trait and performance that sets them apart from the rest of the cast. Rounding out the performers is Carlos Clemenz, who gives The King of Bohemia an elegance of royalty.

“It was interesting when first looking at the characters based on the original books rather than new renditions,” Luria said. “To make Watson my own I took the director’s specifics, read the original stories, and looked at the movies and TV series for reference. Nick has been my best friend for years, so the bond was already there. It was just putting it into our characters. We had a fun, talented ensemble that cooperated well.”

The performances are complimented by a fantastic combination of lighting and music. These help transition more comical scenes to more serious scenes while establishing mood masterfully. The choreography will keep viewers entertained; the actors are constantly moving, whether it is to retrieve an item or meet another face-to-face. The only challenge in watching this play is that the dialogue goes by quickly. If the audience does not pay attention for the full duration, they are liable to miss several key elements essential to the plot.

“I always enjoy working with students,” Cole said. “This turned out to be a terrific collaboration, and they rose to the piece. Each member had a strong, committed investment and it was a great way to begin the theatre season. We had a lot of great character moments and it set a good pace for the rest of the year.”

With a competent cast and great direction, this is a welcome start to the Oswego theatre season.

“Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure” was a success due to the immense
collaboration of students and faculty.