How do ‘God bless us every one!’ and ‘The game is afoot’ go together? Better than expected! In Mark Shanahan’s A Sherlock Carol, two of English literature’s greatest characters come together for an evening of comedic yet heartfelt redemption while solving a spooky murder mystery.

Credit: Danny Kaan

Professor Moriarty is dead, to begin with. It has been three years after Holmes’ arch nemesis has plunged to his death during the dramatic show-down at the Reichenbach Falls, leaving the world’s foremost consulting detective to his own devices. Sherlock is haunted by the spirit of the past, having lost all his interest in the current crimes and affairs London has to offer. He even parts ways with his one and only friend, Dr. Watson.

Solitary as an oyster, he eats a lonely meal in a lonely pub on Christmas Eve, having turned down one of his Baker Street Irregular’s request to solve the case of her father who was wrongly accused to have stolen something. When yet another doctor approaches him with a murder, little does he know he just met Tiny Tim! The victim of the crime – you guessed it – is Timothy Cratchit’s long-time beneficiary Ebeneezer Scrooge. The stories begin to intertwine. Sherlock, still refusing to take the case, can only be convinced when he learns about a certain blue stone that was intended to be gifted to Scrooge by a certain countess/widow to the King of Bohemia (Sherlockians might already know what and who we are talking about). The stone was stolen, and the intended recipient was murdered after receiving a threat to his life just a couple of days earlier. And the game? Was afoot!

Credit: Danny Kaan

Shanahan has found a fun and clever way to mix Doyle’s only Holmes Christmas adventure with Dickens’ ultimate Christmas story. The lines between both classics blur perfectly and create a new and wonderful way of telling the well-known story of A Christmas Carol – ghost appearances included. Shanahan, not only the writer but also the director, steers a cast of only six people who – except for Ben Caplan as Holmes and Kammy Darweish as Scrooge – play multiple parts throughout the night. They all do a fantastic job of switching from one character to the other, sometimes only in seconds. A special shout-out goes to Richard James, who I utmost enjoyed watching. He goes from Dr. Watson to a carol singer to ultimately a distressed housekeeper with ease. I had a blast! Caplan’s Holmes is very fidgety and un-Holmesy to begin with, but I felt that is a great display of the state the detective is in. He transforms more and more into the Holmes we know, although the Christmas Spirits seem to have given him a wider range of emotions and humanity than I expected. Darweish has great comedic timing and was utterly enjoying himself on stage. It is always fun to see how actors are so at ease with their characters.  The entire cast supports the story so well, it becomes a very cohesive piece. The simple set designed by Anna Louizos and the Victorian costumes by Linda Cho does the rest.

Credit: Danny Kaan

A Sherlock Carol is a wonderful festive play to get the entire family into the Christmas spirit. You can catch it at the Marylebone Theatre until the 7th of January 2023, very conveniently just around the corner of 221b Baker Street, the very home of Sherlock Holmes!             

Rating: 4 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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