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ArtsHub.com.au review

ADELAIDE FRINGE FESTIVAL REVIEW: Sherlock Holmes & the Saline Solution
By Glen Johns Arts Hub | Friday, February 27, 2009 Share
The lads from Sound & Fury would like to have us believe that they’re idiots with nothing to say. (See footnote*) This is, of course, utter nonsense. They are clever creators, dedicated craftsman and consummate vaudeville-esque performers.

As with all S&F shows (at least all I have seen: they have been to the Adelaide Fringe at least 4 times by my reckoning) it is as crammed full of as many: jokes; pop culture references; bad puns ; throwaway one liners; ad-libs (& ad-libs which have become part of the scene) ; costume changes; outrageous accents (Sean Connery should sue), visual gags; verbal wordplays ; misunderstandings; misdirections; deliberate misleadings ; innuendo ; double, triple & even quadruple entendres ; confusion, chaos & onstage anarchy as can be contained within sixty minutes as possible. The occasional good pun also slips through quality control.

Jokes are shelved & returned to us later for maximum effect. My personal favourite was If a train leaves Paddington station at …” Jokes are made at our, the audience’s, expense. “Theatres are filled with ruffians, vagrants & whores”. Jokes at each other’s expense. [In an outrageous accent] “The game is effete.” “It is the way you’re playing it.” And so on.

They are irreverent, playful, whacky. In a word. FUN. If it’s a night of thought provoking theatre you’re after, look elsewhere. If it’s a night of not just breaking, but smashing of the fourth wall & jumping up & down on the remnants, you’ve found it. It is ideal fringe fare. Equally accessible for theatergoers who get the in-jokes, as for a mainstream audience just out to see a couple of shows as part of the Garden of Unearthly Delights’s ambiance.

But all of what I have said could be applied to every S&F show. So what of Sherlock Holmes & the Saline Solution.

The audience is greeted outside the theatre door by the three performers Richard Maritzer, Shelby Bond & Vinny Cardinale. They are both themselves & their characters & their job is to relax & reassure the audience that this is no amateurish melodrama we are about to see – despite the lashings of tweed, deerstalker cap & calabash pipe.

We go inside. They talk about the difference between casual & formal. Casual is standing at the front of the stage talking to us as mates; formal is taking a step backwards, having the stagelights snapped on & performing to us as The Audience. There’s a great gag about all it takes to be an actor which I won’t give away.

The boys are introduced, Richard as Sherlock, Shelby as Watson, Vinnie as … the rest. But there’s a problem. Shelby really wants to play Sherlock Holmes as Richard does it “every night”. (I’m sure I’m not giving too much away if I say, I’m certain Richard has never played Sherlock!).

As for the rest. Well, Sherlock is just the framework for a series of pratfalls, sight gags, chase scenes, clue solving, suspecting-deducing, wrong-tree barking & excerpts from Oliver, My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins. There’s a great group of jokes about Sherlock learning things from the evidence. Let us just say, under the S&F treatment, Sherlock is no forensic genius. But he is neat!

My only complaint is that it feels about 10 minutes too long. The plot (term loosely applied) loses itself for a bit in the latter third, but this a minor issue. It is, as with all S&F shows I have seen, a thoroughly entertaining way to spend to an hour reminding ourselves that ‘plays’, should at the very least, be playful.

* Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. Macbeth

Sherlock Holmes & the Saline Solution
Sound & Fury
Adelaide Fringe Festival
Garden of Unearthly Delights – La Cascaduer
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