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Photo: Rachel Worton

Theatre Review: The Penultimate Problem of Sherlock Holmes—until 12.01.18

By Samara Caplan and Laura Gauthier on November 26, 2018

By Samara Caplan and Laura Gauthier. Laura and Samara spend their days as non-profit unicorns and fill every spare minute exploring the world of musical theatre as BFFs (that’s Broadway Friends Forever).

A puzzling tale for Sherlock Holmes to solve has landed at The Gladstone for a run with Phoenix Players this month. Fans of Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson’s mysteries will be intrigued by this tale. Written not by the original author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but by John Nassivera in 1980, the play takes the audience through familiar characters but with certain twists. It starts with the paranormal but ends with a surprising guest that shakes Sherlock to the core beliefs of his world and threatens to end his life. It leaves the audience questioning as much as our famed detective.

Photo: Rachel Worton.

Inventive staging and effects bring the story to life, and managed to get a few gasps and jumps catching the audience off guard. Clever and lengthy dialogue gave a few challenges to some of the actors on preview night, but overall the tale should intrigue especially hardcore fans of the ‘consulting detective’. We thought we were familiar with the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, pervasive as they are in pop culture, but we were actually left a bit perplexed when seemingly well-known characters from the series were mentioned – and we had no idea who they were. Clearly we weren’t as familiar with the tales as we thought.

But for the Sherlock novices, you will definitely leave the theatre knowing more than you did when you came in, and an extra bonus is that your ticket will help to give back.

The Bums in Seats, Food in Bellies Challenge encourages Ottawans to purchase 1,500 tickets over the run of ten performances at The Gladstone Theatre. If this goal is met, cast member Dr. John Kershman will make a $5,000 donation to the Ottawa Food Bank. For every 100 tickets above that, Dr. Kershman will donate another $250 and the play’s director, André Dimitrijevic, will donate another $750.


The Penultimate Problem of Sherlock Holmes continues at The Gladstone until Saturday, December 1st. Shows are Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30pm and a Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30pm. Tickets are $23. The show runs about 2 hours and 20 minutes with intermission.