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Reviews: Sherlock Holmes The Last Act ★★★ | Watson: The Final Problem ★★★

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Watson The Final Problem
Published 06 Aug 2023

Written by David Stuart Davies, Nigel Miles-Thomas plays Sherlock Holmes as he reflects on his career and relationship with Dr Watson in Sherlock Holmes The Last Act. In a sparse room at Surgeons Hall, where Conan-Doyle got the inspiration for the character, this version of Holmes sees him letting his guard down.

Set in 1916, following Dr Watson’s funeral, Holmes returns to 221B Baker Street to tell his absent friend the things he never told him when he was alive. It’s an attempt to humanise Holmes, who is usually described as dispassionate and cold, exploring the psyche of the man behind the myth.

Miles-Thomas’ take on the great detective is more animated than he’s usually portrayed, and he plays the other characters in the show with similar emphasis. It makes sense to exaggerate the performance as the cases will be familiar to Holmes fans, bar a secret from his past that serves to explain some of his life choices.

Over at the Assembly George Square Studios, in another one-man show, Tim Marriott offers the perspective of Dr Watson, intent on setting the record straight. Written by Bert Coules, Watson: The Final Problem turns the spotlight on Holmes’ companion when he finds himself alone in the world after his wife is gone and the detective is presumed dead.

It’s a first-hand account of Holmes and Watson’s journey from when they first meet, via memories of their cases, until the two friends travel to Switzerland to face their final challenge. As Watson describes their journey across Europe to the Reichenbach Falls, the mutual fondness and respect they had for each other comes through in their actions and decisions. Marriott is convincing as the loyal companion, positively foaming at the mouth when he speaks of Holmes’ archenemy, Professor Moriarty, while also credibly playing the villain and all other characters.