The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes
Book, music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse
Hoxton Hall, 130 Hoxton Street, London N1 6SH to10 May 2013
Wed-Sat 7.30pm Sun 6pm Mat Sat 3pm Sun 2pm
Runs 3hr One interval
TICKETS: 0207 684 0060
Review: William Russell 11 April.
A musical delight in a Palace of Varieties
Ramshackle, spirited and frequently very funny Luke Frederick’s staging of this old Leslie Bricusse musical suggests that it really is worth a second look. It opened originally in 1989 in London with Ron Moody as Sherlock Holmes but tube strikes, among other things, appear to have sabotaged the run. It was also apparently done straight.
In this version, renamed The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes, the tone is set by the place in which it is being performed, the old Hoxton musical hall, one of only two remaining Victorian halls in London. We get magic tricks, puppets, illusions, and all sorts of fun and frolics sending the story up.
They could have been embarrassing, but they work splendidly. The plot deals with how after Sherlock has returned from the Reichenbach Falls Sherlock is pursued by mysterious would be killers who turn out to be Moriarty’s widow and his beautiful daughter Bella who, naturally enough, being a woman of superior qualities given her parentage, falls for a man able to take on her late father.
Bricusse’s score is sparkling, his lyrics genuinely witty – there is a terrific rhyming slang Apples and Pears number – and on the face of it the show deserves a revival. It also benefits from a good cast with Tim Walton making a very dashing Sherlock, more ladies man than the usual desiccated bachelor, and Leonie Heath a delightful Bella trying to decide whether to kill or marry the man. Andrea Miller – clearly the Hoxton Hall’s resident harridan star – almost stops the show as Mrs Hudson who is presented as a man mad widow rather than a provider of comfort to two bachelor boys.
There is a lovely moment when she gets sawn in two – an illusion which dazzles but one can also work out, which is most satisfying. It runs a little too long, but the Barker Street Irregulars and three very pretty ladies of the town make a fine chorus, John Cuswurth a funny Watson and Stephen Leash a suitably bovine, thick as two planks Lestrade. Bricusse is our most under-rated composer of musicals and this, one of his more forgotten shows, proves a delightful surprise.
Sherlock Holmes: Tim Walton
Dr Watson: John Cusworth
Bella Spellgrove: Leonie Heath
Signora Moriarty: Amanda Goldthorpe-Hall
Mrs Hudson: Andrea Miller
Inspector Lestrade: Stephen Leash
The Baker Street Irregulars
Fred Wiggins: Ryan Pidgen
Harry Mossop: Adam Pendrich
Potatoes Clark: Benjamin Bond
Cora Longbottom: Rachel Ensor
Tilly Downacre: Nicola Martin
Polly Trinket: Melanie Brown
Director: Luke Fredericks
Musical Director: Nathan Jarvis
Choreographer: Lee Proud
Set and Costume Designer: Stewart Charlesworth
Lighting Designer: Catherine Webb
Magic Consultant: Thomas Moore
Orchestrator: Michael England
Puppetry Design and Construction: Billie Achilleos