Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous creation is given a shaky new lease of life in this parody adventure by Tobacco Tea. Holmes (Jasmine Atkins-Smart) and Watson (Thomas Parker) haven’t had a case for a very long time. Holmes is bored and experimenting with LSD on Mrs Hudson while Watson is worried that he won’t be able to pay the rent without a new adventure to write about.
To give the production its due, some of the material here is funny in a knowing, metatheatrical spoof kind of way.
Then Isabella Lime arrives - a new client with a new case. When Holmes accidentally kills her, he starts making up an outlandish murder plot to avoid arrest. Except, naturally, all is not as it seems. To say anything more would be to give too much away but, as is to be expected, there’s a lot of preposterous clue solving and an ever-growing master plan behind the scenes, linking everything together.
To give the production its due, some of the material here is funny in a knowing, metatheatrical spoof kind of way. The plot points and deductions are a nicely parodic take on the over-intellectualism and absurd logical leaps characteristic of Doyle’s books and especially the BBC’s Sherlock. Sadly though, this Accidental Adventure has neither the richness of the books nor the pace of the TV series and its own calling card - the humour - is often lacking outside of the occasional spoof reference.
Everything takes far too long to happen. For example, Joshua Phillips’ Moriarty who, in a nice touch, is addicted to detective fiction, finds himself repeating a lot of the same information for a very long time. Our crime fighting duo don’t help - Holmes is neither incisive nor decisive, with Atkins-Smart adopting the correct level of smugness but forgetting to be charismatic or quick enough to make us forgive it. Parker’s Watson is bumbling and useless but doesn’t charm.
All the cast multi-role but even this doesn’t inject the visual or physical energy that the piece so desperately needs. Director Chris Cutting has managed to stretch twenty minutes of average material into an hour-long show so there should be at least two other adventures to accompany the one but sadly there is only one.
The Accidental Adventures of Sherlock Holmes isn’t particularly bad per se. It’s just long and boring. Despite the well-observed parody elements, this really does feel like an accident.