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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Sherlock's Last Case

I know and you know that the press invariably scrutinizes the hole rather than the doughnut. --- Sherlock Holmes
Playwright Charles Marowitz, once a critic himself, takes sardonic glee in using detective Sherlock Holmes and his chronicler Dr. Watson to send up a number of his favorite things. The press, in the above quote, is just a throwaway shot in what's basically a comedy-mystery or mysterious comedy, depending on your point of view about the balance of power.

Premiering at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in 1984 and produced on Broadway with Frank Langella, this production marks the 30th Anniversary of the Colony Theatre. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Beckley, its blend of a classic situation with an aura of contemporary characters is typical of the point of view of one of Los Angeles's most successful theatre companies.

Sherlock's Last Case begins rather slowly in the familiar sitting room of 21B Baker Street where Holmes and Watson solved cases, attended by the bustling Mrs. Hudson. Then comes a threat to Sherlock's life from the family of his worthy adversary, the evil Professor Moriarty.

Marowitz is about more than humor and clever plot twists, none of which will be given away here. He dissects character in a way no Baker Street Irregular has dared before. We see Holmes' vanity, his condescending bullying of Dr. Watson, his rudeness and stinginess to Mrs. Hudson. Watson, too, has many more colors than the amiable buffoon played by Nigel Bruce in those old 1940s movies. In one delicious moment, he slithers across the stage like Igor, Dr. Frankenstein's creature.

Time Winters and Louis Lotorto are physically well-suited to Holmes and Watson, respectively. In several analytical monologues, Marowitz shows us why Holmes is still the Master and Winters never misses a beat. Both actors make a feast of the considerable range required by their roles, with Lotorto finding the humanity beneath the play's outrageous humor. Though young for Inspector Lestrade, Brett Elliott makes him a stalwart career man and finds the Victorian absurdity in the characterization. Pat Caldwell, though occasionally squeaky vocally on opening night, is a ravishing Liza and Lisa Beezley as a looming Mrs. Hudson makes you see why Holmes feels compelled to put her down.

Director David Rose briskly keeps the cast up to the mark without going over the top. David Potts' scenic design warmly and solidly reflects both the Victorian and the Gothic. A. Jeffrey Schoenberg's costume designs slyly interpret Holmes' vanity and deftly sketch the characters of the others.

Even the ending remains a mystery, though it's clear that Holmes remains in character -- eternally.

Playwright: Charles Marowitz
Director: David Rose
Cast: Time Winters (Sherlock Holmes), Louis Lotorto (Dr. Watson), Lisa Beezley (Mrs. Hudson), Pat Caldwell (Liza), Brett Elliott (Inspector Lestrade), Timothy Zurich (An Imposter), Carter Yepsen (Damion)
Set Design: David Potts
Lighting Design: Jeremy Pivnick
Costume Design: A. Jeffrey Schoenberg
Sound Design: Drew Dalzell
Hair & Wig Design: Diane Martinous
Running Time: Two hours twenty minutes with one intermission
Running Dates: June 11-July 10, 2005.
Where: The Colony Theatre, 555 N. Third St., Burbank, PH: (818) 558-7000.
Reviewed by Laura Hitchcock on June 11.

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