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Photo courtesy of the Ottawa Fringe Festival

Fringe Review: 2 Sherlock Holmes Adventures

By David Currie on June 15, 2019

2 Sherlock Holmes Adventures
by Kenneth Brown & John D. Huston
60 min / PG / Comedy / Drama / Mystery

I don’t think I was the target demographic for this show. In their sold-out debut performance, and coming off a successful tour of the Prairies, Kenneth Brown and John D. Huston present their take on two short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The audience definitely skews older for this show, and the reason may be familiarity. The show feels like a radio play, offering decent characterization and some excellent broad humour, following a classical storytelling structure that pleased and enthralled an audience who can remember the events of the Iranian hostage-taking (that inspired the movie Argo) in vivid detail.

The show’s staging was workmanlike, predictable but effective. The pacing was slow and methodical, mirroring the detective style of Conan Doyle’s iconic character, and the play presents the time, politics, and imperialism of the late 19th century with uncritical nostalgia. However, this isn’t meant as a takedown or a mean review. The audience was captivated and engaged by the traditional narrative, and the show was reminiscent of many plays I saw during my own time in the Prairies.

The audience was captivated and engaged.

Good reviews, or at least well-written ones, are meant to provide the performers with some good takeaway lines, so here goes: The show works, presenting the stories of Arthur Conan Doyle with integrity and skill. The actors take unique and complementary approaches to Sherlock Holmes, and their versatility is out in full force with the dozen characters they inhabit.

I just wanted something else. I didn’t need a straight adaptation of the works of Sir Arthur, or a direct retelling of those two stories. The character-switching often got swept away by the constraints of the source texts. The innovative theatrical device that Kenneth Brown and John D. Huston have laboured over is better than the show. I want to know how the two versions of Holmes see each other. I want to know how they cope with their rashness in the second story. There is a more modern gem of a show hidden in 2 Sherlock Holmes Adventures. On Friday evening, I just didn’t see it.


2 Sherlock Holmes Adventures by Kenneth Brown & John D. Huston is playing at Arts Court Theatre (2 Daly Ave) until Saturday June 22, 2019. Tickets cost $12 online (plus a $2 processing fee) and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.


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