BRAVO to Fountain Hills Community Theater for presenting a mystery that wasn’t penned by Agatha Christie! Sherlock’s Last Case is a cleverly written treat from American-born critic Charles Marowitz.
No offense to Ag-fans, but if The Mousetrap or And Then There Were None remount in any of a half-dozen familiar haunts anytime soon, I’m going to turn in my Hercule Poirot “tussy-mussy” lapel pin.
In Sherlock’s Last Case, Peter J. Hill (Sherlock Holmes) gives a precision performance with less than a week to prepare after the former lead dropped out. He shines during Act II in a scene that cannot be shared without disclosing one of the playwright’s many plot twists that makes Lombard Street look like a straightaway.
“In addition to being (Fountain Hills Community Theater’s) artistic director, Peter reluctantly steps in on occasion to fill vacated roles,” said the show’s director Bob Feugate. “He’s a quick study and fortunately fit the costumes.”
Speaking of costumes, a tip of the handmade deerstalker to designer Mickey Courtney! The green dress he created for Amy Serafin (Liza Moriarty) and the housekeeper’s outfit worn by Donna Georgette (Mrs. Hudson) look as if they leaped off the period page of a Charles Gibson illustration.
Playing the daughter of Holmes’ arch-nemesis, Serafin does a remarkable job of balancing lines that are both eloquently reserved and effusively openhearted when appropriate.
Georgette confidently walks a tightrope by antagonizing the detective while manipulating his sidekick. As Holmes says, “Watson, your innate gullibility is quite the match for Mrs. Hudson’s Celtic guile.”
Bruce Heskett (Dr. Watson) so effortlessly embodies the character of the bumbling doctor that local adjudicators will have a tough time finding a better nominee for best supporting actor.
Just as every well-balanced ensemble needs a comic foil, Herb Paine (Inspector Lestrade) brings an innocence and benevolent charm to his well-intended Scotland Yard character.
The set itself is a scene stealer; elaborately decorated to reflect decades of sleuthing memorabilia.
Does Sherlock’s Last Case have something for everyone? Its complex plot, occasionally burdensome British vernacular, infrequent sexual innuendo and implied drug use may be too much for younger audiences to appreciate, but it is fair game for more mature mystery mavens.
The show runs through November 10 and tickets are available at FHCT.org or by calling 480.837.9661 x3.
Photos by Patti Torrilhon.
Full disclosure: I was originally cast as Holmes, but bowed out when it became evident that my mental bandwidth was too narrow to master Sherlock’s verbosity and misplaced modifiers. Sic vita est.