Reviewed by: Richard Lane
Playwright, director and actor John Martin has written a pseudo-Gothic “Sherlock Holmes/ Doctor Watson meet Jekyll and Hyde.” It is set in 19th Century London, home of depraved and sordid characters inhabiting London’s East End.
The plot is simple – the search by Holmes and Watson for a “monster” who is mutilating and murdering the citizens of Devil’s Acre on the streets.
The production is setup as a sound stage with several microphones regrettably casting shadows and obstructing the performers from the audience. Very annoying!
The musical score is by David D’Angelo, who with Paul McLean was the lyricist. The songs were often recitative but generally worked well with some lively numbers and witty lyrics.
Performances on the night were a little uneven but honours for the evening must go to the three “ladies of the night” – Suzie Cherry as Annie, Shelly Pontiac as Mabel and the experienced Sue Oldknow as Fanny Adams/ Nancy. Mention should also be made of the 16-year-old Aden Quinn as Charlie. This young man has a strong well-articulated singing voice and a commanding stage presence. A cheeky performance as the “naughty young man.”
John Martin and Paul Trueack as Sherlock Holmes and Watson respectively, worked together throughout and were mostly convincing in their roles.
Rachel Blundey as Diana Windsor sang well, as did Paul McLean as Jekyll/ Hyde.
Deirdre Quinn as Holmes’ landlady, the bossy, quaint Mrs Hudson and Brady Gambling as a Toff/ Constable O’Reilly/ Drunk Sailor, played their roles with energy.
Rather too many “noises off” were distracting, but all-in-all this was a creditable production for the Community based theatre company of the South.
A scene from The Devil's Acre