This Sherlock Holmes mystery is the best presentation I’ve seen at Theatre 40 in quite a while. It’s fun all the way through, and seems to fly by.
Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily is a new-ish tale (first produced almost a decade ago) by Seattle actress Katie Forgette, who does an admirable job of emulating the great Arthur Conan Doyle. It features real-life characters actress Lillie Langtry and flamboyant playwright Oscar Wilde.
The story itself has lots of humor to go along with all the intrigue and cleverness. And all eight actors are perfectly cast, which does not happen very often in LA theatre. Even their various English accents work, which is good to hear since all but a lone Argentinean are American.
My favorite was Scott Facher who plays Oscar Wilde. He’s perfect; he’s a riot while not overdoing the “gaiety.” It’s a really wonderful, understated, spot-on acting turn.
And, even though the role of Dr. Watson isn’t as big here as it is in the Sherlock Holmes films, John Wallace Combs’ portrayal of Holmes’ sidekick is comforting. He reminded me a bit of the definitive Watson, Nigel Bruce.
The performance that I saw had a bit of real-life intrigue to it, (which will be in effect going forward, I believe). I had missed the opening night, so I went to Theatre 40 on the Saturday of Thanksgiving week-end. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the original guy who was playing Holmes’ arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty, was not able to go on that night. So, without understudies in this company, they had to find a new actor to play the role…with one day’s notice! And he was fine.
There was an announcement about it before the show began, and we were told that the new guy may have to read from the script, but he did that in only one scene and for only a few lines. How is that even possible? Especially with having to perform a fencing duel! (Which he had just learned the choreography of that day!) So, major props to that actor, whose name is—get ready for it–Ryan…Moriarty!!! (Is that how he got the gig? He had been prepared for it his whole life!)
A super-nice touch of the evening was that, at the end of the curtain call, the rest of the cast applauded Ryan. They must have all been very grateful to him, especially considering the holiday. (I’ve heard that he’ll now play the role for the rest of the run, so please give him a little extra love when you see Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily yourselves.)
On a technical note, it’s impressive how easily and quickly the set is changed for the more-locations-than-usual.
The play has many clever lines, my favorite of which is when Oscar Wilde says that something is not a matter of “good or bad—people are either charming or tedious.” I hear ya, bro! I’ve never put it better myself.
And, as always, Theatre 40 is the easiest theatre experience in town. The free parking just a few steps down the stairs is such a bonus. This whole evening was such a delightful experience that I hope my fellow Angelenos get to have it, too!