Review: Not my favorite outing with Sherlock, but ‘Final Adventure’ boasts a wonderful Gordon Moore
When I think Sherlock Holmes, I think Gordon Moore.
Seriously. The other day I was in a bookstore — for those raised in the Amazon Era, that word means a retail establishment selling bound volumes of printed material — and I happened to brush by the fiction section and bumped into the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, notably the stories of his famous detective.
Whom did I immediately think of?
Not Robert Downey Jr. Not Benedict Cumberbatch. Not Will Ferrell.
No, my Sherlock is Gordon Moore. There’s something about the Good Company Players actor’s interpretation of the role that just seems right: The supreme confidence tempered by the slightest fumble of awkwardness. The roaring intellect mixed with a bit of geek-out obsessiveness. The steely countenance set off by the flagrantly expressive eyebrows.
All this is put to good use in Good Company’s latest Holmes offering, “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure,” currently playing at the 2nd Space Theatre.
I’m not as keen on this installment in the famous-detective franchise as I was for 2017’s chipper “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” which also featured Moore in the leading role, along with a very scary dog lurking on the misty moor outside the English manor house in which the play was set. (I admit, however, that I am especially partial to the headline I wrote for that review: “Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Fog.”) In “Final Adventure,” I didn’t feel the dramatic tension as much as I did in “Hound.”
The plot is more convoluted, so much so that I stopped actively trying to figure out the details and just let the twists wash over me. And so much action has to occur offstage (or while imagining waterfalls and abandoned factories, say) that the script feels overly dense and wordy. Playwright Steven Dietz, who based it on the original 1899 play by William Gillette and Conan Doyle, gets in lots of narrative machinations but doesn’t provide much opportunity for the audience to connect.
David Pierce’s set didn’t work as well for me, either. The script calls for a jillion locations, which is a challenge, but the multipurpose scenic design lacks a strong concept. And being able to see unused set pieces tucked under a platform felt lackluster.
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Still, with Moore’s Sherlock bristling his way through the storyline — which includes a major chunk of stage time devoted to his ongoing rivalry with the evil Professor Moriarty (Kelly Ventura, who makes a nice villain) — I found a number of things to like in director Karan Johnson’s production.
The unnerving music is excellent. Joielle Adams’ lighting design helps set a sinister mood. Jessica Rose Knotts, as the enigmatic Irene Adler — who had an affair with a king and is now trying to save her skin — is well cast. Plus, Joseph Ham is terrific in yet another memorable role, this one as a slimy henchman who pivots from folksy to ruthless in a blink.
Adding to Moore’s presence is the return of another company member as the all-important sidekick, Dr. Watson. Henry Montelongo is strong reprises this supporting role from his turn in “Hound.” His character tempers Holmes’ eccentricities and lightens the tone.
Come to think of it, when I close my eyes and think of Dr. Watson, I think Henry Montelongo. So, there you have it: Moore and Montelongo. GCP is Holmes and Watson for me. And this connection is despite all the adaptations and actors who have played the roles over the years. Forget the streets of London — my detective fix comes on Olive Avenue. That’s elementary, my dear.