March 9, 2014 at 9:20 PM
CHATHAM, NJ – Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries have certainly lost none of their appeal in recent years. Television, movies and stage productions abound for this perennial English sleuth.
Within the last year, The Bickford Theatre in Morristown and the Summit Playhouse have produced plays about Holmes and his cases. Now The Chatham Players bring a smart, well cast production to the area.
It may be thanks to the script itself by Stephen Dietz, which is based on the original 1899 play by William Gillette and Doyle. Then we have director Gordon Wiener, who captures the eerie essence of London at the turn of the century, with fog and gaslight, and later the roar of the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland.
The cast is admirable, with Michael Harvey as Sherlock Holmes, capturing his restlessness and keen observations effectively. Howard Fischer is Dr. John Watson, his able companion in solving crimes. Watson also comments on the doings as the play goes along. Without the chemistry of these two, the whole thing would fall flat.
But there are other fascinating characters as well. Christopher C. Gibbs is a sinister and cunning Professor Moriarty, while Chip Prestera is the excitable and hilarious King of Bohemia. Kathleen Campbell Jackson plays the beautiful opera singer,
Irene Adler. Even Holmes himself can’t resist her charms. Patrick R. Field plays Godfrey Norton, a presumed lawyer who is ultimately separated from his head (so we’re told.) Pat Wry is a convincing Madge and bustling housekeeper, while Sean Day takes on the roles of policeman, clergyman and Sid Prince. Thecast displays hints of English accents without overdoing it.The plot is complicated, which isn’t surprising, as Holmes would never be bothered with a simple, straight-forward who done it.
Among the appealing touches are Joe DeVico’s sound design, with haunting background music and the rush and roar of these falls. A scene with possible gas explosions is memorable, too. Henry Siebecker’s lighting conveys the effect of a waterfall and intriguing scrim on a higher level where some of the action takes place. Roy Pancirov’s set design manages to incorporate stone walls for a street scene, with Holmes’ living room on Baker Street in the foreground. It all functions smoothly. Andrea Sickler is the scenic artist and Tish Lum provides intriguing props, such as the old fashioned file cabinet and Victrola. Beverly Wand’s costumes are period perfect, especially Irene’s bustles and velvets.
You’re in for a riveting evening as Holmes cleverly defuses Moriarty’s latest plot. The game is definitely afoot. Performances of “Sherlock Holmes, The Final Adventure” continue through March 22 at The Chatham Playhouse, 23 North Passaic Avenue in Chatham. For tickets, call 973-635-7363 orvisit chathamplayers.org.