The beauty of our storefront theaters is that we get to see some great theater at very low cost. Idle Muse Theatre Company, a relative newcomer to the Chicago theater scene is presenting a wonderful little story, “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure” in a marvelous little spot in Rogers Park ( and area just bustling with theater activity) at the Side Project Theatre located at 1439 West Jarvis. This adaptation by Steven Dietz of the work by William Gillette and Arthur Conan Doyle, is a marvelous look at the last case handled by the great Sherlock Holmes ( or is it?). Director Evan Jackson utilizes the very small stage area of this “black box” theatre very well on an unusual set by Dennis Mae. Try to visualize an are that is probably 18′ wide by about 19′ deep and that is the area we are talking about. In this space we have a London Street, Holme’s house, a church, A factory, a train and even Reichanbach Falls in Switzerland. All of this is accomplished by using glass on hangers ( almost like shower doors) that hang from pipes. This allows for quick scene changes and despite its being plain and simple, it works!
The story starts with a newspaper headline that states that the great Sherlock Holmes, on his latest case, has died. We are then taken back in time with our narrator/story-teller, Dr. John H. Watson ( a strong performance by Nathan Pease) who takes us back in time to just how and why this case was even taken by Holmes ( Luke Hamilton handles this role with great style and just the right comic touches where needed). It turns out that the King of Bohemia ( Brian Bengston) is supposed to get married but there is a photo of the opera singer Irene Asdler ( the lovely Elizabeth Macdougald) together that may ruin his wedding plans and he is being blackmailed over the photo. Holmes is to get the photo back before the wedding in order to save his marriage and his position. Holmes finds that Ms. Adler has wed one James Larabee,( Matthew Gibson) pretending to be someone else and that all of this is a scam designed by his arch enemy, Professor Moriarty ( Nathan Thompson) who has a master plan of his own- to destroy the great Sherlock Holmes.
The story takes us to many places as Holmes himself falls in love with the enchanting Ms. Adler and along the way, Moriarty commits many crimes. This is a show filled with strange twists and turns an is carried out to perfection by this sterling cast of players. I was very impressed by the majority of the actors and their ability to make one believe they were in fact who they were supposed to be. Even the ensemble members, Mara Kovacevic, Jaron Salazar and Daniel Vuillaume played their different characters with true emotion and feeling.. This is a cast of nine actors and yet, they appeared to be many more and not once did we question any of them.
While this may be classified as a mystery, it is in reality a love story; our King ( Brian Bengston) still loves Ms. Adler, Holmes falls in love with her, Larrabee, while in it for the money, also finds that he has succumbed to her beauty and spirit and although Moriarty isn’t supposed to have any feelings, one can sense that her charms have won him over as well. We go through a kidnapping, blackmail drops and more as we explore this final episode in Holme’s life and along the way, we get to watch his powers of deduction as others are awed by how quickly he figures out what is real and what is not. The only difference in this over some of the other stories , is that he also falls in love with the charming and smart Ms. Adler. As the story goes on we see him risking his life for the love she offers and at the very end we are surprised by the party who is reading us the news of the demise of “The Sherlock Holmes”.
This production is two hours ( with a ten minute intermission) of quality theater at a very affordable ticket price. In fact, just having gone to the movies this week, this play was only a few dollars more and a much better experience. Live Theater is alive and well and oing great things in Rogers Park. The only problem with this production is that you only have until August 22nd to see it and performances are only on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.. To order your tickets, and I wouldn’t wait as there are less than 40 seats in this intimate little theater, call 773-382-2472. Tickets are either $15 or $20 depending on the day and can also be ordered online at www.idlemuse.org. There is plenty of street parking or you can take the Redline to the Jarvis exit. The theater is located at 1439 West Jarvis.