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Theatre Review (LA): Watson by Jaime Robledo at the Sacred Fools

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It seems that Sherlock Holmes is back in vogue—or did he ever stop being on our radar? First there was the movie with Robert Downey, Jr. which wasn’t half bad, then the wonderful new series from England that sets Holmes in the 20th century, cell phones and all, our detective appearing right at home in this modern setting. The enigmatic Holmes seems to be comfortable wherever he appears because he is such a fascinating character, a genius yet a drug addict, sexless yet terribly attractive to everyone he meets. The ever-creative Sacred Fools Theatre is presenting its own version of Holmes-mania in a play called Watson, in which Watson is given credit for much of Holmes’ smarts.

The play was developed in a unique workshop invented by Sacred Fools which features weekly competitions called “Serial Killers”: five plays enter and three plays leave. The writer was given only six days to write, cast, rehearse, and tech each new chapter in this saga. The competition went on for 21 weeks and Watson and writer Jaime Robledo emerged victorious, escaping elimination each time.

Now I love all Holmes/Watson/Moriarty stories so I went to this with great anticipation. For the most part the cast seemed a tad young but they certainly gave it a go. Director Robledo, obviously influenced by the recent staging of 39 Steps, gives us a lively rendition of this story in which Watson is the hero, perfect in this time where everyone feels like an underdog (unless you make over $250,000 a year). Joe Fria makes a rather frenetic Holmes (stoned I guess) while Scott Legggett as Watson provides a steady balance. Eric Curtis plays Sherlock’s older, smarter, but boring brother Mycroft, Henry Dittman is the wily Moriarity who has lost none of his nastiness in this version, and Rebecca Larson is the pretty Irene Adler. The hysterical and brilliant French Stewart gives us a wildly eccentric Freud and a bizarre Queen Victoria. He is a marvelous addition to the cast.

The show has been extended at Sacred Fools until Dec 18th.

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