Sherlock's Last Case takes classic characters to new heights


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Perhaps the most famous fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes has been portrayed in dozens of books, TV shows, and movies — and now, on a University of Iowa stage.

Members of the Iowa Summer Rep said the next play in the "Chills and Thrills" series, Sherlock's Last Case, by Charles Marowitz, depicts the famed crime-solver and his assistant Dr. Watson in a new light. The play will open at 8 p.m. today in the Theater Building's Mabie Theater.

UI Performing Arts Division marketing manager JD Mendenhall said the play presents audiences with a more comedic personification of the iconic Holmes.

"A lot of things that we know and love about Sherlock Holmes are just exaggerated to the point where it is very ridiculous," he said. "It's like Sherlock Holmes on steroids."

David Combs, the actor playing Holmes, said such overstated characteristics include Holmes' eccentricity, reputation with the ladies, and vigor for solving mysteries at the expense of personal relationships.

"It's set a little bit later on in Sherlock's career, when he's not quite so sharp as he used to be," he said. "What was a rather brusque personality has turned into grating personality, and as a result the people around him are affected a little more."

Although playing such an eccentric and iconic character was a daunting task, he said, he was thrilled to take on the role.

"Along with the challenge, it's one of those things every actor hopes to do, to play Sherlock Holmes or one of the great characters," he said. "It's so exciting to be a part of the whole mystique: wearing the Inverness coat and deerstalker hat and the pipe, with a big magnifying glass and saying, 'Elementary, my dear Watson.' All those fun things."

Actor Kendall Lloyd, who plays Dr. John Watson, said he, too, was a bit intimidated, yet excited, to partake in a continuation of the Sherlock Holmes legend.

"It's one of those classic pairs that we've seen through numerous TV shows and movies, and also the books," he said. "One of the tricky things about playing Watson is getting over the dozens of ways he's been played by numerous actors, finding my own take on it, and being able to be creative in this brand-new take on Watson."

Lloyd said Marowitz's "new take" included a more tired Watson, working to keep up with the ever-crazy Holmes.

"Watson is becoming a little more frustrated with Sherlock's antics, and Sherlock isn't the most thoughtful guy to hang out with all the time," he said. "I think you'll see some new developments in their relationship. Oftentimes, Watson serves as the sounding board for Holmes's ideas, rather than somebody who is always contributing to the cases."

With new interpretations of classic characters and an interesting blend of genres, Combs said, he believes new and old fans of the Holmes story will enjoy the play.

"Sherlock's Last Case is definitely a comedy-mystery, but it also has some darker moments in it," he said. "Because it has all the combination of a mystery plus comedy, I think it's going to be one of those things audiences really enjoy."

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