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A Refurbished 'Holmes' Is Not Just Elementary

THEATER REVIEW

THE WEST END HORROR, a New Mystery of Sherlock Holmes. By Anthony Dodge

and Marcia Milgrom Dodge, from a novel by Nicholas Meyer. Directed by Marcia

Milgrom Dodge. Bay Street Theatre, Sag Harbor. Seen Friday, opening night.

Through July 7.

e thought we were in trouble almost as soon as the play began: The incident

that brings the great Sherlock Holmes back from overwhelming ennui is the

murder of a theater critic! This was not good, we feared, trying to hide a

suddenly huge notepad.

Not to worry. "The West End Horror, a New Mystery of Sherlock Holmes," a

melodrama that got its world premiere Friday night at the Bay Street Theatre in

Sag Harbor, does have its clever way with one's own dastardly profession. But

it takes plenty of shots at many other elements theatrical in late Victorian

London.

"The West End Horror," adapted from the Nicholas Meyer novel by Anthony

Dodge and Marcia Milgrom Dodge (featuring Dodge himself as Dr. Watson) is a

dashingly clever play. It got a dashingly clever production, too - directed by

Dodge herself.

Late in 1895, Holmes (Terrence Mann) is rescued from himself by that

annoying Irishman, George Bernard Shaw (Wynn Harmon). Shaw begs Holmes to solve

the murder of a theater critic, the fictional Jonathan McCarthy. The

consulting detective (in bowler and overcoat, not deerstalker and cloak)

follows a scent into the West End, London's theater district.

They encounter William S. Gilbert (Martin Hillier), Sir Arthur Sullivan

(Mark Shanahan), impresario Henry Irving (Harmon), actress Ellen Terry (Dennis

Ryan), Oscar Wilde (Shanahan), Wilde's boyfriend Bosie (Jennifer Waldman) and

Bram Stoker (Hillier), all doing in the play just what they were doing in life.

Except for Mann and Anthony Dodge, who play single characters throughout,

the 34 other parts are played by four men and a woman, cross-dressing

continuously. It's another clever conceit: These rapid, repeated costume

changes (lush period clothing by Christianne Myers) add to the show's quality.

So do the scene changes (sets by Troy Hourie), done in full view while Holmes

and Watson circle the stage in their investigations.

The cleverness peaks with the dialogue and music, quotations from

Shakespeare, Millay, Sullivan, Wagner and others. The play is alternately dry

and farcical. There's nothing profound, and few guffaws, but lots of chuckles

and sighs of recognition.

In keeping with Holmes' stoicism, he is the only unflappable person on

stage. Dodge's Watson was slightly excitable. The rest of the characters,

individuals despite the multiple roles, were well over the top. Harmon's Shaw

was brilliant, and Shanahan's Wilde, Sullivan and Mrs. Hudson stood out for

their presence. Not to forget pianist Matt Kovich, whose playing was

alternately melodramatic and subtle.

Therefore, gentle theatergoer, expect two hours of sophisticated fun. Even

if you happen to be a critic.

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