A collection of historic reviews and articles on Sherlockian theatrical performances from contemporary newspapers.

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Sherlock Holmes (William Gillette)
May 7 – 10: Grand Theatre, Derby, England

The Holmeses of Baker Street (Basil Mitchell)
October 30 - November 3: Theatre Royal, Exeter, Devon, England

(Information above on performance dates is derived from newspaper archives and is therefore likely to be incomplete.)


With his accustomed facility in stamping his personality upon any role he undertakes, Mr Hamilton Deane made “Sherlock Holmes” vividly real at the Derby Grand Theatre on Thursday night. He may have been more debonair, and he certainly had more of the spice of romance in his composition, than Conan Doyle’s original conception, but he was true to tradition as Sherlock Holmes, detective and philosopher. His slender physique helped him in the one capacity, and an apparently natural bent of mind equally helped him in the other. As was to be expected, therefore, he had to take the curtain several times at the close, so decisive was the approval of another crowded “house”.

The work of his co-adjutors among the Warburton players was also of the usual high excellence, notably that of Miss Dora Patrick as Alice Faulkner, Mr Stuart Lomarth as Professor Moriarty, the “Napoleon of crime,” Mr Edmund Blake as James Larrabee, and Mr Barrie Livesey as Dr Watson.
“Sherlock Holmes fills the bill for the remainder of the week.

Derby Daily Telegraph, Friday 9 May 1924
found at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk


Thrills and Laughs at Exeter Theatre

My advice to those who have not already done so is “visit the Theatre Royal, Exeter, this week without fail,” for they will enjoy nearly three hours’ entertainment to the full. “The Holmeses of Baker Street” is a delightful play in which our old friends created by the late lamented Sir Arthur Conan Doyle come to life once more.

Sherlock Holmes is altered, however. The keen, slim figure is the same, the dressing gown and pipe are there, but Holmes a quarter of a century after his retirement is sick of clues and criminal investigation. His mantle, however, has fallen on the charming shoulders of his pretty daughter Shirley, whose one aim and object in life is to become a crime detector.

Her first case, however, cures her, and it needs all the commanding force, presence of mind, and bluff of her father to clear up unpleasant complications. In some respects “The Holmeses of Baker Street” may be looked upon as a parody on “Sherlock Holmes and my dear Watson,” but it is choice entertainment in which laughter and thrills are cleverly intermingled.

Hamilton Deane is Sherlock Holmes to life, and recalls vividly to one’s mind the tall, sparsely-built figure, with the tapering fingertips, wrapped in the familiar dressing gown, and with the inevitable pipe. Mr Deane well portrays the ex-criminal investigator, whose passion for bees drives him willy-nilly back to the paths he abhors for a few brief hours. It is a finely-sustained piece of work which ranks high in the sphere of clever stagecraft.
Barbara James gives an attractive study of Shirley Holmes, who bids fair to make a second “Sherlock” Holmes. With charm and grace of manner Miss James combines high histrionic abilities, and is convincing and efficient in her handling of this important role.

An especial word of praise is due to Frank Lacey, who owing to the serious illness of E. Wensley Russell in London, had to play the important part of Dr Watson at very short notice. It speaks highly for his ability as an actor that he is filling the breach with such success and effectiveness, for the part is a long one which calls for much careful handling.

Mrs Watson is happily presented by Iris Vandeleur, who gives to her portrayal just the right touches of comedy and dramatic effect. I like, too, the manner in which H. Lewis Clifford plays Detective-Inspector Withers, who is willing to go to any lengths in order to persuade Holmes to help him in bringing the White X Gang to book. Mr Clifford gives a natural presentation of the bluff, determined, even if none too sharp, official detective, and receives every support from W.R. Campbell as Laker.

John Dodsworth gives a natural portrait of Mr Canning, the enthusiastic wireless expert in love with Shirley, but who makes a mess of things by mixing up with the White X Gang. Frank Kingsley is another of the clever members of D. Rewse-White’s fine company, and his “William” is a natural piece of work. Ewell B. Gessing (“scrunchy” Malone) makes up well in his disguise as Sir Joseph Masterman. Here is another entertainment to which I unhesitatingly award an A1 certificate.

“The Holmeses of Baker Street” will be presented at 8 tonight and tomorrow and at this afternoon’s matinee. The intervals, as usual, are enlivened by fine playing by The “Royal” Trio.

Devon & Exeter Gazette, Friday 3 November 1933
found at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk