Monday, March 10, 2014


vcm_s_kf_m160_120x160By Ruth Ross

The enduring charm of Sherlock Holmes and his exploits is legendary. When a tired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed off his sleuth, the public outcry was so great that he had to resurrect the gentleman—pronto! And witness the plethora of film and television adaptations of the stories, starring the likes of Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett, Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch—not to mention the Emmy-winning Elementary on network TV starring Johnnie Lee Miller as the eccentric detective.

Well, if you still cannot get enough of the master detective (or want to have an evening of dramatic fun), hot foot it over to the Chatham Playhouse where the Chatham Community Players are performing a polished, stylish production of Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure by Stephen Dietz (based on an original 1899 play) that's an amalgam of two stories, "A Scandal in Bohemia" and "The Final Adventure" wherein Holmes meets his nemesis Dr. Moriarty—and his demise!

IMG_0026_(2)Veteran director Gordon Wiener has helmed this production with a deft touch. Narrated by Dr. John Watson (Howard Fischer, right, with Michael Harvey as Holmes), the plot involves Holmes' attempt to apprehend Dr. Moriarty, the insidious "Napoleon of Crime," who has committed over 40 crimes and escaped without leaving a trace. Holmes has collected enough evidence to convict him, but the police need time to organize the arrests of this mastermind and his cohorts, so Holmes has decided to decamp for the countryside to avoid danger while awaiting the arrests.

In the meantime, the King of Bohemia arrives to entreat Holmes' assistance in retrieving an incriminating photograph from his former mistress, opera diva Irene Adler, so as not to derail his upcoming nuptials to the Princess of Scandinavia. When it turns out that Moriarty et al are also interested in the same photograph, the game's afoot! Will Holmes retrieve the photograph? Can he resist the womanly charms of Irene Adler? Can he foil Moriarty's nefarious plans? Danger lurks around every corner: can the Bloodhound of Baker Street prevail?

Roy Pancirov and Andrea Sickler have designed and constructed an evocative set that replicates Holmes' Victorian drawing room, Irene's Briony Lodge library, an underground gas chamber—even the Reichenbach Falls—to transport us to 1893 London and the Continent. Beverly Wand's costumes and Tish Lum's props and set decoration complete the effect.

Holmes_Sherlock_Moriarity_Irene_-_GroupThe cast is equally proficient at extending the illusion. Michael Harvey (second from left) is an appropriately starchy Holmes, reciting his deductions with great aplomb, but making them sound as commonplace as an observation about the weather. Howard Fischer's Watson (far left) is equal parts astonishment and respect for his friend; he adds great sobriety to the goings-on. And Christopher C. Gibbs' Moriarty(second from right) is malevolence personified; wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley!

Chip Prestera has great fun as the King of Bohemia, complete with a German accent that dwarfs his stature! Patrick R. Field as the rather dopey Godfrey Norton and Pat Wry as his slippery sister Madge give criminality a bad name, but in a good way, and Sean Day provides able support in various roles as a safecracker, a policeman and clergyman.

IMG_0175_(3)But it's Kathleen Campbell Jackson (right, in the grip of Moriarty) who almost steals the play from the men. As opera diva Irene Adler, she's charming and conniving, at the same time. It's easy to see why Holmes is smitten. She switches sides so frequently and rapidly that one's head swims!

Kidnapping, numerous disguises, underhand plots, twists and turns, and a host of clues that even have Watson scratching his head all make for a delicious evening at the Chatham Playhouse. Yes, the game's afoot and it's a dangerous one. Will Sherlock Holmes prevail against Dr. Moriarty? Will Irene Adler win his heart? Will he save the King of Bohemia's hide? No need to guess: to find out , get on over to Chatham, but do it soon. Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure will be performed for only two more weekends, ending March 22.

For information and tickets, visit  or call 973.635,7363.

All photos by Jill Fischer