Miss Anne (Issa Russell), Sherlock Holmes (Morris Hodder) and Dr. Watson (Timothy Foss) appear in Shakespeare by the Sea’s production of Chris Hibb’s short play “The Curious Case of the Colony,” 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at the Newman Wine Vaults on Water street until Aug. 18. — Submitted photo
For the past two years, one of the most charmingly off-beat of the Shakespeare by the Sea offerings has been Chris Hibbs’s playlet that brings to St. John’s in the 1890’s Conan Doyle’s brilliant but eccentric, pipe-smoking, deer-stalker hatted, cerebral and saturnine Baker Street private detective, Sherlock Holmes (reincarnated again by Morris Hodder), accompanied by his slower-witted companion, confidant, and amanuensis, long-suffering Dr. John Watson (Timothy Foss reprising the role).
The antagonist is a vibrant and sultry, dark-eyed and raven-haired young woman who is suspected of murdering her fiancé, played by newcomer to the show but by no means newcomer to performance, Issa Russell, who is poised and focused throughout.
The threesome interact with one another crisply and confidently, while Holmes deduces, explains and expatiates on the facts of the case (for the benefit of Watson, of Miss Anne, and of us) — aided by the inspiration of his ever-present pipe and tobacco.
Mounted in a lamp-lit wine cellar in the Newman Wine Vaults, with convincing period costume, this is theatre at close quarters, as the characters stride back and forth the length of the vault, with audience seated along the walls on either side. Script and production are high-spirited, featuring dialogue and character that are larger and more colourful than life. The show is fun to watch, the vault experience distinctive.
Directed for the second time around by Wendi Smallwood, “The Curious Case in the Colony” plays on Saturdays and Sundays until August 18, starting at 8 p.m. and running for 50 minutes, with no intermission.
The opening-night production was fully subscribed and the show was much in demand last year. Since the Newman Vaults playing space accommodates only 40 spectators, you would be well advised to get your tickets early, if you are not to join a line-up and perhaps be disappointed.