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Watson, the Last Great Tale of the Legendary Sherlock Holmes

Michael Frederic as Holmes, Jef Canter as Watson

Jef Canter as Watson, Michael Frederic as Holmes in WATSON

A mystery. A legend. An enduring friendship. WATSON tells the story of a good man trapped in the shadow of a great man. This theatrical and high-energy play balances comedy and drama as it recounts the last great tale of the legendary Sherlock Holmes as seen through the eyes of his trusted friend and colleague, Dr. John H. Watson. From pantomime to Monty Python to Punch and Judy, high comedy to dramatic mystery, “Watson” is a roller-coaster of actor frenzy, a rollicking tale.  This farcical take on Sherlock Holmes finally gives Watson the credit he deserves for putting up with the drug-addled detective!This production is not recommended for children due to adult content, language and themes.
Literature’s most famous second fiddle finally gets his due in this slapstick farce from writer Jaime Robledo. Casting Watson as the beleaguered babysitter to Holmes’ twitchy drug addict, this re-imagining sends the duo on a globe-hopping adventure to prevent—or maybe cause—a world war. When Queen Victoria charges the illustrious sleuth with delivering a puzzle box to a political summit, Holmes is quick to accept, and almost quicker to get distracted by both his penchant for drugs and Irene Adler. Thus, the newly-wed Watson must bid adieu to his loyal wife Mary and assist his comrade on an adventure that spans London, Vienna, and Budapest via hansom cab, hot-air balloon, and horseback. Popping up in this madcap adventure are classic Conan Doyle characters such as brother Mycroft Holmes and love interest Irene Adler, as well as an unexpected appearance by none other than Sigmund Freud. All the while, members of Moriarty’s criminal network tirelessly pursue the duo—at least, according to the ramblings of the paranoid sleuth who will undoubtedly end up taking all the credit.
Review Quotes for “Watson”:
“Clever bits of staging provide much of the fun in “Watson: The Last Great Tale of the Legendary Sherlock Holmes,” an East Coast premiere on stage through Sunday at Mount Gretna Playhouse.
Simple boxes and chairs, maneuvered adroitly by stagehands, stand in for trains, horses, hot-air balloons, a minaret and even the White Cliffs of Dover during this far-flung adventure, which endeavors to reinvent the reality of Holmes’ loyal sidekick, Dr. John Watson.
Witty ideas abound on the set, from the opening and closing of handheld windows to fluttering white sheets meant to evoke London fog. Gretna Theatre’s energetic cast supplies the verisimilitude, persuasively galloping, jouncing and clambering with these minimalist props while often providing their own sound effects.
At its best, the approach makes for some wonderful theater. An ingenious chairbound “chase” on horseback is among the highlights of the first act, which sets up a rather thin plot about a mysterious box that Queen Victoria assigns Holmes and Watson to deliver to a political summit aimed at preventing war in Europe.”
Playwright Jaime Robledo takes what has become a fashionable deconstructionist approach to Holmes, and one that may seem particularly familiar to knowledgeable fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic sleuth. “Watson” is essentially a mash-up of Doyle’s short story “The Final Problem” and author Nicholas Meyer’s later Holmesian homage, “The Seven-Per-Cent Solution.”
Robledo’s primary addition to the canon is the notion that Watson (portrayed here by solid professional Jef Canter) was far more than the bumbling foil to Holmes’ genius, but rather an insightful detective in his own right.”
“In “Watson,” Holmes (Michael Frederic) is the cocaine-addicted wretch that Meyer introduced in his 1974 novel, and several plot points in the show are lifted almost directly from that work. This includes a plot by his associates to trick Holmes into meeting Dr. Sigmund Freud (Adam Pearce, who also doubles as Queen Victoria) for counsel on ways to overcome his drug addiction.
Other familiar characters from the Holmes canon include brother Mycroft Holmes (Troy Gochenour), love interest Irene Adler (Mary McNulty) and of course, arch villain James Moriarty (played splendidly by Lancaster County native Todd Loughry).
Professor Moriarty steals most of the scenes he is in, as amoral psychopaths are wont to do. His character seems to fit in particularly well with the almost hallucinogenic quality that steers “Watson.””
“The usual two-week summer run for professional shows at the open-air playhouse in Lebanon County has been shortened in order to allow for a series of musical concerts around the Fourth of July holiday. That’s in keeping with the tiny Mount Gretna’s long history as part of the arts-driven Chautauqua movement.
So if you need a Holmes fix, even a diluted one, you’ll need to act quickly. After Sunday, this particular game will no longer be afoot.”
– David Dunkle, June 28, 2013

Troy Gochenour as Mycroft, Michael Frederic as Holmes, Mary McNulty as Irene Adler, Jef Canter as Watson

Michael Frederic as Holmes, Jef Canter as Watson, Tim Osgood as the Cabbie

Tim Osgood, Adam Pearce as Queen Victoria and AJ Hunsucker in WATSON

Jef Canter and Michael Frederic