Murder and Robbery in Theatre Severn....Elementary!

Blackeyed Theatre

Sherlock Holmes: The Sign of Four

Theatre Severn

23rd - 25th /January / 2019

If you have ever wondered what theatre is really for and what it is really about you could do no better than to go and catch Blackeyed Theatre’s, “Sherlock Holmes: The Sign of Four.” It is not only a masterclass in all things theatrical, it is also a masterpiece.

With Luke Barton in an expertly played Sherlock and Joseph Derrington in the role of Dr. Watson, the two brought before us an exotic tale of far off Empire, jewels and of course Murder. Joined by Stephanie Rutherford, Christopher Glover, Ru Hamilton and Zach Lee between the six of them they gave the impression of a cast of thousands.

 With each character so beautifully created and so well drawn by this group of actors one realises very quickly that this show is of the highest calibre and so fantastically cast it had to work on every level and work it does.

Here we see the mercurial Holmes at his best in a romp that leaves one feeling utterly elated initially to have seen the show but secondly to think you have it solved only to discover that Holmes is the brainiest man in the building.

Written and directed by Nick Lane this is a show that once again recaptures the true essence of the text and one imagines had Conan Doyle been around to see it, he would have thoroughly approved of the sensitive and creative way the whole mis-en-scene was created. It really somehow did feel like Victorian London and the characterisations were so good that one was back in the 19th Century almost immediately.

The fantastically clever use of music to give pathos, pace and tempo was again a masterstroke. Just at the right time in would come the music. But not like they’d got nothing else to do; the music was played by the cast. Great big brass bass trombone worked so well and so sensitively with flute, xylophone, oboe and guitar. In fact Zach Lee has his own youtube channel where he demonstrates the unique and haunting way he makes the guitar work for him. It is so pleasing on the ears.

Holmes is tolerated by his much beleaguered Landlady, Mrs. Hudson. I believe as so many great actresses have had a go at the role it was going to be a tough one. But Stephanie Rutherford completely nails it. Ms. Rutherford is able to change character as we might change clothes. She immerses into her part and morphs so wonderfully and entertainingly into other characters that it is indeed sometimes hard to believe you are watching the same woman.

The set is just so clever. Really made up of a series of three dimensional shapes initially it looks like somewhere but nowhere, then comes the use of the shapes. Boats, carriages, Indian temples and a Victorian London skyline are all there to see and yet we never left our seats.

There are so many dimensions to a show this size. The set has to work, the lighting and sound plans, the costume and even the properties again have to work well in this show every dimension is filled admirably and there seems to be absolutely nothing left to chance. That is a true indication of the genius of the practitioners.

This is a truly great show, everything is just right. I called it a romp not in a disparaging way at all it is a romp in so much as it takes you all over the globe and finally involves you in an exciting chase in a boat down the Thames. For fear of betraying the plot this reviewer will leak no more. But one can say It’s very exciting, when one thinks, after they have gone all that’s left will be the black box of an empty stage and yet tonight we saw it with our own eyes it became something so much more! Amazing.

This show is here until Friday and if you are wondering what might make a great Thursday or Friday night out. Check it out. As Holmes might say, One deduces that the likelihood of a brilliant time is a foregone conclusion!

This is a Five Star Review.

Owen J.Lewis



Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Three times Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet. See more on

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