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

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Sherlock Holmes (William Gillette)
April 7 - 19: Theatre Royal, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England
May 12 - 17: Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield, England
August: Grand Theatre, Southampton, England
September 22 - 27: Victoria Theatre, Broughton, England

February: Royalty Theatre & Opera House, Barrow-in-Furness, England
May: Theatre Royal, Bournemouth, England
August 17 - 22: Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield, England
November: Theatre Royal, Ashton-Under-Lyne, England

January 11 - 16: Queen's Theatre, Leeds, England
April 18 - 23: Theatre Royal, Hull, England
September 12 - 17: The Camden Theatre, London, England
October: Rotunda Theatre, Liverpool, England
November: Theatre Royal, Stockton-on-Tees, England

February: New Theatre, Oxford, England
May 1 - 6: Theatre Royal, Leeds, England

July 8 - 13: Palace Theatre, Hull, England
July 29 - August 3: Grand Theatre, Leeds, England
August 26 - 31: His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, Scotland
September 23 - 28: Theatre Royal, Sheffield, England

The Speckled Band (Arthur Conan Doyle)
June 4 - August: Adelphi Theatre, London, England

March: Theatre Royal, Manchester, England

September 22 - November: St James's Theatre, London, England

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


The famous detective of Mr Conan Doyle makes a splendidly attractive stage figure. In Mr Saintsbury, who last night appeared in the role for the 600th time, he is represented as the very incarnation of passionless perception, before whose power of observation all the precautions of ordinary thieves and rogues fall away. From the slightest indications he perceives the true drift of his opponents, and with unhesitating decision baulks them. Only in Professor Moriarty, the “emperor” of the thieves, does he meet anything approaching his match.

Mr Saintsbury is a most successful impersonator of Sherlock Holmes. His nonchalant manner wins him the approval of the “house,” and such is the reputation Mr Conan Doyle has won for the detective that the audience at once settle down to see him win the game.

Mr Robert Forsyth, as the accomplished villain, is excellent, and Miss Theodore Diehl as the dark accomplice of Mr Ernest Ruston as James Larrabee acts with much verve and intelligence, whilst Miss Marjorie Murray as the injured and persecuted Miss Faulkner, around whom the play turns, is very sweet and tender.

The love interest woven into the play is, however, entirely subsidiary, and the drama depends for its attractiveness on the duel of wits between Mr Sherlock Holmes and the Emperor. Into the intricacies of this it is not necessary to enter. We need only say that the unfolding of the plot is watched with the closest of attention, and that Sherlock Holmes on the stage is likely to be as permanently popular as in print.

He is a character dear to the British people, and they will cherish him, and with the same reason as they do the memory of Charles Peace, the story of whose escapades never fail to revive newspapers with falling circulations.

Hull Daily Mail, Tuesday 19 April 1904
found at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk



Detective stories are supposed to appeal only to boys of about school age, but the fascination which Sir A. Conan Doyle’s great creation exercises over the minds of a large section of the general public of all ages and both sexes was shown last evening, when the Leeds Theatre Royal was crowded from the stalls to the top of the gallery with an audience which followed with the keenest interest the adventures on the inimitable Sherlock Holmes. The interest of last night will doubtless continue through the week, and crowded houses may be expected nightly, for Mr Gillette in his dramatisation of the character has correctly gauged the taste of the generality of the public.

Mr H.A. Saintsbury admirably sustained the title role, giving an excellent dramatic rendering of the part, though occasionally he allowed his voice to fall into too low a key for an audience many members of which seemed to suffer from a chronic cough.

Though largely a one-man play, Mr Saintsbury was supported by a thoroughly capable company. Mr W.F. Stirling as Professor Moriarty, Mr Leslie Carter as James Larrabee, Mr Lawrence Leighton as Dr Watson, Miss Vera Longden as Alice Faulkner, and Miss Maud Linden as Madge Larrabee being alike good, though Miss Longden was somewhat lacking in animation. Mr Walter Hicks would have been excellent as “Billy,” but he shouted too much and was always in too much of a hurry.

The peculiar lighting of the play was excellently and most effectively managed, as was the staging generally.

Leeds Mercury, Tuesday 2 May 1905
found at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk



“Sherlock Holmes” at the Hull Palace this week will be enjoyed by many if only for the way it revives happy memories of quiet hours spent in reading the wonderful escapades of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous character. Much of its charm lies in the fact that it is “dated,” and those responsible for the production have wisely recognised this and avoided the pitfall of trying to bring it up-to-date.

Quite a number of Hull people must have seen the play before, but they will in all probability be unable to resist another opportunity to be carried back again to the days when the glamour of “Sherlock Holmes” and his friend, “Dr Watson,” was a very real thing. Apart from this, however, the chance it affords of seeing that capable actor, H.A. Saintsbury, in the name part, should not be allowed to slip by.

Mr Saintsbury gives s a picture of the famous detective with which no fault can be found, and he is well supported by a capable all-round company.

George E. Feardon is excellent as “Dr Watson” and Walter Ashley gives an impressive performance as the detective’s right hand man “John Forman.” “Billy” a part played years ago by Charlie Chaplin, is well portrayed by Sydney Rudston, and Quinton McPherson is suitably villainous as the arch-crook Professor Moriarty.

Others in the company who give good performances are Walter Heaton, Frank Irish, junr, John F. Traynor, Ernest Hill, William Yeldman, Heather Evans, Adrian Heathcote, Henry Browne, George Williams, Gladys Dunham, Marlo Mangan, Bertha Northam, and Dorothy Chevalier.

The play is well produced and the four scenes attractive and realistic.

Hull Daily Mail, Tuesday 9 July 1929
found at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk



When I visited Mr H.A. Saintsbury, who this week in “Sherlock Holmes,” is presenting to Hull Palace audiences a vivid characterisation of the famous detective cteated by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, he had just penned a letter to the author of the drama, Mr W. Gillette. In it Mr Saintsbury recalled that among his most valued possessions was a letter from the author received in 1905 in which congratulations were extended to him on the “Survival of his Sanity” after 900 performances as Holmes.

Since then he had played the part of the detective in the “Speckled Band” in 1910 at the Adelphi Theatre, and when it was moved to the Globe Theatre he remained in the cast. He was also in the company which revived the play in London and gave 300 performances.

“At Hull,” the letter continued, “I have now registered my 1,000th performance in ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and my 1,300th appearance as the detective in the two plays.”


Mr Saintsbury told me that he had not played in Hull for about 20 years. He thought it was about the early “90’s” that he visited the Third Port in Hall Caine’s “Ben Macree” and then, if his memory did not fail him, he appeared at the old Theatre Royal. He had also visited Hull in his own version of the “Three Musketeers,” which was the first of 11 versions in all which were staged about that time when there was a “Musketeer” boom. Another company was in Hull at the same time with the same play.

The actor reminded me that it may not be generally known that before Charlie Chaplin joined Karno’s Company in the “Mumming Birds” he and his brother, Syd, appeared in two plays. The first was in “Sherlock Holmes” with Mr Saintsbury. Charlie, who was then about 12 years of age, took the part of “Billy,” while his brother, who is several years his senior, appeared as the “Count.” Later, the Chaplin brothers were members of the company who played “Jim,” the author of which was the actor who is this week giving much pleasure to Palace audiences.


Like Henry Ainley, H.A. Saintsbury started life in a bank. At one time he worked at the Bank of England, and in doing so followed in his father’s footsteps. Had he stayed there he would have handled more gold than he has done as an actor, but the stage would have lost a very fine artist.

He tells a good story showing the enlightenment displayed by some of those who have the destiny of the theatre in their hands and who are now apprehensive of the challenge of the talkies. It concerns the period when there were negotiations on foot to take “Ned Kean of Old Drury,” in which he gave a splendid performance as Ned, to Drury Lane Theatre.

“But who is ‘Ned Kean,’” one of the directors of the theatre asked when discussions on the play were in progress.

“There is a statue downstairs,” someone volunteered, and the first speaker replied, “Oh, I don’t remember him.”

He did not know of the reputation of Edmund Kean, who was one of the finest Shakespearean actors that ever appeared in the theatre over which he now held part control.

Hull Daily Mail, Wednesday 10 July 1929
found at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk


Return of Favourite Play and Fine Actor

Revisiting the glimpses of the moon is a dangerous game, especially in the theatre, where so much changes so rapidly. That which caught and held us twenty years ago may hold us no more today, but seem comparatively childish or to have become hopelessly demoded. Have no fears, however, about “Sherlock Holmes” – playing once nightly at His Majesty’s Theatre this week.

If you saw it twenty years ago you will enjoy it every bit as much today, and probably more, for you will realise how much better built and sustained its thrills are than those of so many recent “crook” plays. The essence of the thing is sound and good, as it always was. It is full-blooded drama, verging at times on melodrama, of the very best kind.

Right Into It.

There is no preliminary skirmishing. The curtain has been up not more than a few minutes when we are plunged into the thick of things, and each act increases the interest. The fourth act – when all seems over, bar the explanations – only rouses our interest anew and holds us to the end.

The end is not exactly what we should wish – Holmes in love and a young lady’s arms are the weakest touches of the play. Those, however, who like thrills, good theatre and acting will have all these things in full measure, almost to running over. The house last night was held tense, time after time, as situation after situation developed or alternately was dissolved in laughter at the wit, in deed and word, of Sherlock Holmes.

As character and in the manner of acting Sherlock Holmes has, of course, the lion’s share of the play. Mr H.A. Saintsbury, who was playing the part last night for the 1372nd time, is a pleasure to watch and hear. There is not the slightest sign of staleness or carelessness in his rendering of the part. One frequently forgets that he is acting at all.

He looks as near the ideal of the part as could be wished, and, as one after another of the looked-for mannerisms crop up, they are depicted to the literary life of this character, who is implanted clearly in the minds of young and old; all critical because of their intimate knowledge of the immortal detective and his ways. That is a great part of Mr Saintsbury’s triumph, and in addition, there is his fine diction, his sureness of touch and absolute authority.

A Good Cast.

But there are others in the cast who maintain the good standards set by the chief. There is, for instance, Mr Quintin McPherson in the part of Professor Moriarty, an excellent piece of character acting, and never finer than when he is engaged in his duel of wits with Holmes.

Then there are the villain and villainess – the Larrabees – played by Mr John F. Traynor and Miss Bertha Northam with a restraint that tells. Mr George E. Fearon is the Dr Watson, and it was characteristic of the audience that there was a desire to applaud when he first appeared. The part gives no great scope, but Mr Fearon did all that could be done with it.

Mr Sydney Rudston played Billy – the part which Charlie Chaplin acted in his early days – and played it with perkiness and aplomb. Others who should be mentioned are Messrs Walter Ashley, Ernest Hill, Miss Dorothy Chevalier, and Miss Gladys Dunham, who, as the heroine, was charmingly afflicted and pleasantly in love with Holmes.

A Long Run.

“Sherlock Holmes” has had quite a long stage life, and in these days it has many rivals, but it can stand beside them all, and will, no doubt, still be thrilling and amusing us when most of its successors are forgotten. It is at once the finest romance and something of a fantasia on the public’s ideal of a profession that in life and in fiction never loses its fascination. With the lover, the detective is loved by the world and his wife, and Sherlock Holmes in this version satisfies both affections.

Aberdeen Journal, Tuesday 27 August 1929
found at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk