Recommended *** It’s difficult to evaluate The Raven Theater’s production of “Sherlock Homes and the Case of the Christmas Goose” because it is so different from the Raven’s traditional fare of the emotionally heavy, and often canonical, drama. Director Michael Menendian has repeatedly brought a tragic and gorgeous beauty to the moral, emotional, and physical violence that constitute the ambiance of the canonical American stage.
Here, he has been forced to go from emotional violence to cozy charm, and he struggles a little to make sense of a piece adapted from a short-story already considered light-detective fiction. Script-Writers Menedian and John Weagly have decided to embrace this reputation in their adaption, weaving in humorous allusions to characters from a “Christmas Carol:” the quintessential Holiday piece, and adding Christmas music to make the play more festive and seasonable. The cast has been color-blinded, common for holiday pieces, but rare for The Raven. I don’t think it damaged Menendian and Weagly’s script, but it doesn’t add anything to the production either.
The story concerns a goose that was stolen and a very valuable Jewel which its owner had no clue was stuck in its entrails. He refuses its carcass when Holmes (Graham Emmons) and Watson (Damian Conrad) offer it back after consuming the bird. Initially, the only clues in the story are the hat which has fallen off and the spectacular Jewel inside the bird from which Holmes is able to locate the real thief. It’s not a terribly interesting story, but the music the makes the whole thing feel festive and light-hearted in a good way.
The actors don’t have extremely serious parts and the only two that really stand out are Sarah Hayes as Mrs. Breckingridge and Rudy Galvan as James Ryder who give hilarious and suitably over-the-top performances which, along with the music (Chris Logan), are the two things from piece that linger in the mind. The costumes (Alaina Moore) are, as always at the Raven, suitable and convincing, but in the end, its exactly what it is billed as: very light holiday far that is being produced for commercial rather than artistic reasons, but surely the Raven can be allowed that indulgence once a year.
Regular performances run through January 4 with performances at various times throughout the run. The Raven Theatre is located at 6157 N. Clark Street, Chicago in Edgewater. There is limited free parking space available at the theatre on free on the street-parking is available nearby. Regular Tickets are $20 and $15 students, active military, and raven subscribers. Tickets can be purchased at at www.raventeheatre.com or by calling 773-338-6563
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Sherlock Holmes and The Case of The Golden Goose”