Steam Punk Sherlock

Par Alan Hustak le 12 mai 2013

Jay_Baruchel_Sherlock.jpgJay Baruchel is the big drawing card in Sherlock Holmes at the Segal Centre until May 28, but the hometown Hollywood actor of The Trotsky  fame is not the best thing about the production.  Undeniably,  Baruchel  lends an enthusiastic presence.   His charisma cannot disguise the fact that he is an undisciplined stage actor whose rapid-fire, nasal delivery seems at times to channel Groucho Marx through John Cleese.  Certain allowances, however, must be made.  With   a nod to his celebrity and to his  credit,  Baruchel  accepted a  challenge, took the risk, and does not play safe.  He certainly doesn’t embarrass himself, even though he does look a little too youthful to be sucking on a curved briar pipe. 

His effort, motivated perhaps by a desire to hone his acting talent in a safe, comfortable zone,  is supported by the strong cast, (Most of it from Sidemart Theatrical Grocery).  Baruchel is also aided by Andrew Shaver’s brilliant direction, by the staging which is almost cinematic, and all of it  intensified  by Luc  Prairie’s  lighting and some wonderfully moody  video design by  George  Allister and Patrick Andrew Boivin.

Jay_Baruchel_Pipe_Sherlock.jpgGreg Kramer, who was found dead the day  rehearsals  began  wrote the delightfully wonky script which is inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but bears little resemblance to the redoubtable  Victorian detective.  In Kramer’s drug-addled whodunit, a British aristocrat who spearheads a drive in the House of Lords to control the opium trade goes missing.   A drowned body pops up from the Thames.   His Lordship’s wife, deliciously played by a dewy-eyed Gemma James Smith, engages Holmes to solve the case. 

One thing is  elementary  - there can be no Holmes without Watson.  And  Karl   Graboshas  is  low key as the stalwart sidekick who can’t get a word in edgewise.   Mary Harvey is competent as Mrs. Hudson, the exasperated housekeeper.   Kyle Gatehouse steps admirably in to the villainous role of the devilishly costumed Professor Moriarty which Kramer was to have played.   Although   Gatehouse performs with  sepulchral relish, you can’t help but wonder what Kramer would have done with the role.   Moriarty  is ably assisted in his devious behavior by Deena Aziz as a rather rigid Orchid and by Graham Cuthbertson as Col.  Sebastian Moran.  Patrick Costello is convincing as the Scotland Yard Inspector George Lestrade. 

Among the young actors in the cast worth tracking are Matt Gagnon, Trent   Pardy, and Chip Chuipka who are cast in multiple roles.  Even when the British accents are inconsistent, the performances are magnetic.

Kramer’s script explores the social and political hypocrisy of fin-de siècle London, and the symbiotic relationship between good and evil.  The stylized production moves effortlessly between sooty, squalid London streetscapes, green upholstered drawing rooms, railway coaches, psychedelic  opium dens and  lurking, metallic dockyards.  From the instant the curtain rises and you  peer  through the gauzy scrim set designer James Lavoie has come up with you are swept away into the action. It doesn’t take long to deduce this adaptation is a fine ensemble production, one of true mystery, magic and fun-filled melodrama.

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