Friday, 10 October 2014

Sherlock Holmes: A Working Hypothesis @ The Great Northern Playhouse, 08.10.14

Participatory theatre. Those two words can strike fear into even the most hardened drama devotees. But they needn't, as when it is done well it represents the best things about live performance: it is spontaneous, unpredictable, engaging and endearing. Sherlock Holmes: A Working Hypothesis, is a fine example of just why that is.

Upon climbing the stairs to the newly opened Great Northern Playhouse you are confronted by a man with a walking stick and a decidedly dubious foreign accent. A name-tag is stuck to your front and information about the evening's events - a lecture on the deducting methods of Sherlock Holmes - is shoved into your hand.

Problems, puzzles and party hats aplenty follow, the audience interacting with one another as well as the performers, while the mystery of Professor Moriaty's whereabouts is slowly unwoven. Highlights include a fact-finding foray during the interval, a practical lesson in deducing facts from the faces of fellow audience members and a short improvised dance session.

The performers won the audience over early on with their energy and enthusiasm, and soon had us doing whatever they wanted. The script, written by Alexander Wright, stayed true to the Conan Doyle style and kept the story moving along at a good pace. However, the second half did not quite keep up the promise of the first, with the play reverting to a rather more traditional format that wasn't quite as fun to follow.

If you're scared of audience interaction Sherlock Holmes: A Working Hypothesis presents an opportunity to try some total immersion therapy; I suggest you take it.

Words: Andrew Anderson

Image: Courtesy of The Flanagan Collective

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