Skip to content


Sound & Fury's Sherlock Holmes And The Saline Solution
Published on Friday, 28 August 2009

The glowing review you're about to read comes with an important rider. If you're expecting a play which has anything to do with Conan Doyle, you're going to be disappointed. If you're looking for method acting and quality production values, you might feel let down too. But if you're up for what's essentially Sherlock Holmes: The Panto... I promise you'll laugh your deerstalker off.

It's an overused word, but there's really no alternative: Sound And Fury's take on the Great Detective is a good old-fashioned romp. The plot takes a back seat to a series of witty set-pieces, which focus as much on the three actors' relationship with each other as they do on the characters and storyline. The jokes are predictably dreadful, the pace is predictably fast, and there's a predictable amount of harmless innuendo. The vocally-appreciative crowd loved it all.

You'll meet Holmes and Watson before you even take your seats, greeting you in costume in the foyer outside; and once in the theatre you'll be introduced to the third actor, who plays all the other parts (look out for my favourite, the foppish Poppinjay). Then comes the twist, as Watson snatches Holmes' deerstalker and announces that their roles will be reversed that night. It opens the way to ridiculous theories, much eye-rolling from the demoted ex-Holmes, and a host of cutting banter from detective and sidekick alike.

The energy was impressive throughout and, even near the end of a gruelling run, it all felt fresh and new. If they're really making half of it up as they go along, then kudos to their improv skills; if it's actually all scripted, well, three cheers for their acting.

The experience does, I suspect, depend a lot on the audience you're sharing it with - though it's a tribute to the cast that they managed to gee up what looked like a fairly typical crowd. Towards the end, they'd developed such a rapport with us that we were shouting out the more predictable of their punchlines for them. One word of warning, though; don't sit in the front row, unless being pulled up onto the stage to sing a solo round of I'm A Little Teapot is the type of thing you'll enjoy.

Sherlock Holmes and the Saline Solution ain't high-falutin' theatre, but it's riotously good fun - and there's almost nothing about it not to like. So let your hair down, get a couple of your favourite tipple inside you, and go along for some knockabout hilarity at the end of your Festival day.

<< Chopin After Lunch   Almost 10 >>