The Secret is out there...

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Sherlock Holmes: 
The Best Kept Secret

Opera House, Manchester

Writer Mark Catley has taken several of the loose threads from Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Sherlock Holmes stories and attempted to weave them into a yarn that can’t quite take the strain.

So there’s the dependable Dr Watson, naturally, and the defective Inspector Lestrade, but also Irene Adler (The Woman from the author’s brief suggestion of a Holmes’ love interest), the detective’s doubly-pompous brother Mycroft, even a cameo role for the criminal mastermind Moriarty, and then everybody’s current favourite villain – a “vagabond journalist.”

But Catley’s story, and Nikolai Foster’s direction, twists and turns between genres with much less ease than designer Michael Taylor’s rotating stage designs.

Worst of all it’s a fiction wrapped up with too many back story ‘facts’ about the fallibility of our hero – and no-one likes Holmes built on sand.

The eight-strong cast gives it all a nimble-enough telling, but the mystery of whether there’s an audience market for Post-Modern Victorian Melodrama could be Sherlock Holmes’ greatest-ever challenge. It continues here until Saturday.

David Upton