Thursday, September 17, 2015

STAGE BLOOD: Holmes for the Holiday

Basil Rathbone, Peter Cushing, Jeremy Brett, George C Scott, Stewart Granger, Rupert Everett, and Benedict Cumberbatch have all played the great detective. Add to this list now the most preposterous of casting decisions: David Arquette!

Yes, good ol' goofy David Arquette perhaps forever ingrained in moviegoers' minds as the affable, slightly inept policeman Dewey Riley from the Scream movies will be playing the latest re-envisioned version of Sherlock Holmes. And on stage no less! Arquette will be touring in the award-winning production originally mounted in Montreal by director Andrew Shaver and playwright Greg Kramer who died unexpectedly and rather mysteriously on the eve of the final rehearsal.

Described by the producer as having "frequent laugh-out-loud moments, melodramatic mysteries and sometimes nightmarish moments [that] proved irresistible" Kramer's Sherlock Holmes has been fashioned as a Victorian steampunk adventure with scenery projected onto high tech metal scrims. The plot is summed up in this tantalizing paragraph:

The opium wars have ended. The Ripper has wreaked his havoc. Electricity is on the rise and Scotland Yard is in its infancy. Lord Neville St. John gives a moving speech in the House of Lords to ban opium and a vote on the matter is imminent. Meanwhile, Professor James Moriarty, notorious criminal kingpin, plots to thwart the upcoming opium vote. When a drowned body is discovered, and Lord Neville goes missing, Scotland Yard turns to “the world’s only consulting detective”.

In the Montreal production Holmes was portrayed by someone who seems an even more outrageous choice than Arquette -- Canadian comic actor Jay Baruchel, part of the Seth Rogen pack who did some very funny work in the apocalyptic farce This is the End.

Jay Baruchel (right) as Holmes in the original Montreal
production at The Segal Center back in 2013.

The tour opens in Los Angeles next month and will make stops in Toronto, Washington DC and --- Chicago! We get to see Arquette as the master detective around Thanksgiving. You better believe I'm buying tickets.

The latest incarnation of Sherlock Holmes
For more info about the tour visit the website for the touring production. Oddly, when you click on the "Cast" tab you will not see a list of the actors in the cast, but instead will get info on Arquette, the director and the producer. Guess I'll just have to wait until the curtain goes up on the production to find out who'll be playing Watson, Mrs. Hudson and Professor Moriarty all of whom appear in the show according to the production's publicity.

Tune in again around the end of November for my review. I hope I will be as pleasantly surprised and impressed as the self-confessed skeptical Canadian theater reviewer who was quite taken with the show.


  1. Glad to know this is going ahead. Greg Kramer was a friend of long standing -- he and I used to put on live-action mystery games together, way back when -- and I know he was enormously familiar with Sherlock and indeed all things mysterious. (He was very, very well read and published a couple of mysteries himself.) I consulted with him in the early stages of the production but I have no idea what the final script was like ...
    Greg's death wasn't all that mysterious or unexpected since he suffered from a couple of long-term chronic illnesses; I miss him a lot. I'm glad his final work will continue beyond the initial production. And I hope you enjoy it!

  2. Well you know what? In the era of Cumberbatch and Miller, this could totally work!

  3. "... the most preposterous of casting decisions: David Arquette!".
    Well, if Rowan Atkinson can be cast as Maigret.....

  4. Just saw this, John. Yes, a totally unexpected Holmes choice. If he can narrow his face down and get the accent right. Maybe. That photo looks good.