Those who know me know that I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. The minute I found out Kate Berry would be playing Sherlock Holmes I knew I had to get to Creede to see it. Those who also know me know that my drive from Kansas to Colorado four years ago was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. I am scared of heights, and I live in Kansas where, yes, we have some hills but no mountains. A college friend Sarah Weed Chandler joked that if I could get to her house she could drive me. Sure! This will be fun! I kept repeating that to myself on my 6 hour plane ride that was supposed to be 1 hour. I live-texted the plane experience to Facebook so I won’t bore you with all of it here. This is a (ahem) semi-professional theatre diary, so I’ll cut back to the topic.
Kate Berry, in my eyes, can do anything, but I am especially impressed here. She made Holmes her own, and this is difficult for the character that has been recreated more times in literature, film, tv, and stage. Since Arthur Conan Doyle, fans have been obsessed with Sherlock Holmes, fervent to the point of forcing Doyle to bring him back to life after his battle with Moriarty. She gave her character warmth, deductions that were clear, and the heart that Sherlock always tries to hide that is seeking the greater good. Caitlin Wise was her perfect counterpart in Dr. Dorothy Watson. She added levity while still being a strong companion to the fast thinking, eccentric Holmes that Kate Berry brought to life. I thought it especially fantastic the background Christopher M. Walsh gave Dorothy Watson in her difficult fight to become a doctor and her relationship with her brother. In adaptations and fan works of Sherlock Holmes, sometimes Watson’s own brilliance can be outshone by Holmes’s. Walsh has done a great job of reminding us that these are two remarkable people that have partnered together.
Surrounding the two main characters the other players hit perfect notes as they covered dual and triple roles. Scott Cuiper was delightful as Thomas Chapman, Dustin Bronson was a wonderfully overbearing Mycroft and the unwitting accomplice Edwin Greener, and Logan Ernstthal, one of the sharpest portrayals of Lestrade in recent memory. Heather Michelle Lawler, who I’d seen in Stupid F*cking Bird at the Unicorn in Kansas City, was perfect as Lizzie Chapman. Lawler’s character had the sharpest progression and she played it perfectly. Stephanie Diaz and Zayaz Da Camara had the responsibility of the most comedic scenes, and they gave their roles the perfect balance of believability and comedic delivery.
Christopher M. Walsh has created a stunning script which layers in the solid foundation of the original stories with the added twist of Victorian women and the lives they had to navigate. It’s a stunner how he layered them together without being too heavy handed, while giving a nod to the old stories but making it accessible to all. My favorite was the renaming of the Baker Street Irregulars to Holmes’s Knitting Circle of women, highlighting the play’s frequent references to how these women are underestimated in their abilities.
Jessica Jackson, assisted by Dustin Bronson, directed something very special, and in the audience you can feel each piece was carefully choreographed and crafted. The lighting and set (Matthew Schlief) and costumes (Tatyana De Pavloff) were nothing short of pure magic. The stage management team (Devon Muko, Alex Skaar) had to be on point to get the set pieces to move effortlessly for the chase scenes, creating a bench to become a horse drawn carriage, and hit all the cues exactly on time to match. As an added technical quirk, the team had to navigate an unrelated fireworks show during intermission (which was amazing).
The entire production was breathtaking and I can’t say enough that it’s easy to see that the company loves this work. The dramaturgy packet is a gorgeous keepsake for any Sherlock fan and Kate Berry and Will Sinclair need to be commended for putting that together. This is a production that has a couple of weeks left, and you should do anything you can to get here. Creede has again proven that it’s a fantastic treasure, and it’s worth your journey to get here.
New Play Exchange: https://newplayexchange.org/plays/112242/miss-holmes
Author’s note: The author does her best to give credit to both actors and technical talent, and #tags everyone listed in the program even if not named in the written play response. If you feel anyone contributed to the production that was not named or tagged, or any corrections, please contact the author via the original source.
Kelley German, who was commissioned to do the lineart by the theatre, is an online Sherlock fan friend/aquaintance. I have a Sherlock coloring book by her at home. Perfect choice on artist for the line drawing honoring this show.