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

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Sherlock Holmes (William Gillette)
April 25 - 30: Theatre Royal & Opera House, Gloucester, England
August 15 - 20: Theatre Royal, Exeter, England
December 5 - 10: Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield, England
January 23 - 28: Perth Theatre, Perth, Scotland

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


Lovers of “Sherlock Holmes,” Sir A. Conan Doyle’s famous detective, have this week been privileged to see him in the dramatised version. When it was supposed that Holmes had gone to his last account, everybody acquainted with those thrilling detective stories, felt a great pang of regret. Recently, however, the author has told us through the “Strand” magazine how he escaped death. Consequently the play as produced by Mr Charles Frohman, on its return visit to Gloucester this week, has done splendid business at the Theatre Royal.

There is no need for us to give details of the plot. They are too well-known to require recapitulation. All we have to say is that Mr Frohman has a first-class company of artistes, and the play is produced in a manner that leaves little or nothing to be desired.

As Sherlock Holmes, Mr Kenneth Rivington is responsible for a good deal of powerful acting, the manner in which he scores over Professor Moriarty and Mr and Mrs Larrabee being followed with the keenest interest and delight by the audience. Mr George Ingleton makes an excellent Professor, and in Mr H.G. May we have an admirable Mr Larrabee. Miss Violet Lewis gives a clever study of Mrs Larrabee, Mr Edward Heanley is a successful Dr Watson, and Miss Florence Radcliffe gives a first-class presentation of Alice Faulkner.

There is not a weak spot in the cast, a word of special praise being due to Master Cedric Walter, who is responsible for a remarkably fine portrayal of Billy. He infuses plenty of dash and go into his work, and is as amusing as he is clever.

Other characters who deserve mention are John Forman (Mr A. Fawcett), Sir Edward Leighton (Mr H.E. Laing), Count Von Stahlberg (Mr H. Harden), Sidney Prince (H. Stafford), Alfred Bassick (Mr George Dudley), Jim Craigin (Mr A.J. May), Thomas Leary (Mr G. Fairburn), Lightfoot McTeague (Mr W. Wilson), John (Mr M.M. Loomis), Parsons (Mr J.F. Anson), Mrs Faulkner (Miss C. Doncaster), Therese (Miss Lella Norden), and Mrs Smedley (Miss Hattie Newcombe).

The play is splendidly mounted, the scene depicting the Stepney Gas Chamber being very fine.

Gloucestershire Chronicle, Saturday 30 April 1904
found at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk



“Sherlock Holmes” as a detective has been given much publicity, and last night at the Theatre Royal, Exeter, he was represented in an hitherto unpublished episode. A fairly large audience showed much interest in the play, probably influenced by the fact that last week Sir Conan Doyle, the originator of “Sherlock Holmes,” was visiting the city.

The story is written in an intensely dramatic vein, and concerns the strange case of Miss Faulkner. Throughout the evening “Sherlock Holmes” displays his inborn instinct of discerning where others fail, and in the scene of his first meeting with Professor Moriarty, he carries the house with him.

The culminating scene of the performance is undoubtedly that acted in the gruesome Stepney gas chamber, where, by the deceptive glow of his cigar, Sherlock again shows his wonderful ingenuity in his mode of escape from and capture of his would-be captors.

There is every prospect of the play drawing good houses. The parts portrayed by Mr A.B. Murray as Professor Moriarty and Mr Edward Heanley as Dr Watson were safe in the hands of those actors, while as Billy, Master Walter Hicks was delightful. Alice Faulkner was capably undertaken by Miss F. Radcliffe, and that of Mrs Larrabee by Miss Carrie Lacey.

Exeter & Plymouth Gazette, Tuesday 16 August 1904
found at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk



It is difficult to say whether the play has lost or gained interest by the strange resurrection which took place some time ago. The last scene in which there is a meeting and a parting between Sherlock Holmes and Alice Faulkner has lost its pathetic significance by the knowledge that the great detective, instead of losing his life in his memorable meeting with Moriarty at a lovely spot in the Alps, as we were wont to think, really made his escape. Indeed in the light of later events as faithfully recorded in the pages of the “Strand Magazine,” some portions of the dialogue lose their meaning, and the strange foreboding of Sherlock when Professor Moriarty solemnly warns him that he will take a trip to the Continent, and there meet his doom, seems a trifle ridiculous.

Perhaps, however, to a large number of people the chief character is enhanced by the further proof of his supernatural cleverness and the removal of the shadow of his approaching sad end, under which, previously, the last act has unfolded has rendered the piece more pleasurable. “Sherlock Holmes” is now excellent and delightful comedy, with no cloud to mar it from beginning to end. It is splendid fun all through, highly charged with excitement.

The audience roars with laughter and delight as time after time, with diabolical cleverness, the great detective outwits his enemies. The scene where Moriarty and Holmes meet, and that of the gas chamber, from which the detective escapes by deluding his would-be captors, by means of a lighted cigar, are thrilling and amusing even when one knows beforehand how it s all going to end.

The piece is played by a capable company. Sherlock Holmes, as drawn both in the story and the artist’s sketches, is admirably realised by Mr Kenneth Rivington, Mr Fred Inwood plays the not too strenuous part of Dr Watson perfectly, and Miss Florence Radcliffe makes an excellent Alice Faulkner.

One of the most interesting and laughable parts in the whole play is that of “Billy,” the clever little page-boy, and this is capitally taken by Mr Chas. Chaplin.

Mr Arthur B. Murray does full justice to the second greatest figure in the plot, Professor Moriarty, and the characters of Larrabee and Madge Larrabee, which perform such an important part in the piece are in the capable hands of Mr Ernest Gray and Miss Carrie Lacey.

Sheffield Independent, Tuesday 6 December 1904
found at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk