15 July 2016

Sherlock Holmes and The Invisible Thing at the Tabard Theatre

Having discovered the Tabard Theatre not that long ago it has become one of the theatres that I check the What's On section for regularly. The two main things that it has going for it are its location, Turnham Green is ridiculously close to Richmond, and the decent pub downstairs that does a good range of beers and a fine veggie version of fish and chips.

Of course the plays are important too and the one that lured me there this time was Sherlock Holmes and The Invisible Thing, a new story with some very familiar characters.

But first there was the pub. That worked well despite being unable to find a socket with square pins. It is a big pub and was busy and that gave it a lively atmosphere at the cost of slightly slower service that I was used to. No problems though, I was still able to get upstairs early enough to claim a seat in the front row. A sign by the box office said that the performance was sold out and that certainly seemed to be the case.

The set was laid out as a room in a country house where Lucy Grendle had invited Holmes (and Watson of course) to solve a murder mystery involving an apparent invisible murderer. Lucy and Sherlock had some history involving a disputed card game where Sherlock had accused her of cheating.

That quickly set the mood of the story with a more human Sherlock than in some interpretations, more human but still the consummate detective and still very sure of himself.

There was the usual Sherlock deductive showing-off of the I know what you had for lunch kind and this took a lighter touch when he refused to shake a policeman's hand, after Watson had done so, because he "pleasured himself". That became a running gag with Watson showing distaste every time he shook hands and Holmes taking great pains not to do so.

There were other humorous touches like that and it was quite a jolly play as well as having a serious story with a murder mystery to solve.

A lot was made of the characters too and this was far from being a Holmes-only story. This was a confident Watson who knew when to let Holmes do his thing but also when to make his own contribution. Lucy Grendle was playful and the maid, Mrs Rochester, was enigmatic (which later proved to be important).

The story developed neatly as more things were discovered about the murdered and the possible murders which led to more theories being tested and developed. The truth, when it came, was unexpected, as it should have been.

The overall impression was of a play neatly done with a good story embellished by some nice little touches and some distinctive characters all played well. It never tried to be anything other than entertaining and having set entertainment as its target it hit it with aplomb. Sherlock Holmes and The Invisible Thing proved to be an ideal Friday evening play.

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