Along with a contingent of Scandalous Bohemians, I went to see the matinee performance of Sherlock Holmes – the Best Kept Secret, at West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds on Saturday 8th June 2013.

Three days later, I am still thinking about it quite regularly. It was that kind of play. The kind that kept us all chatting and debating and laughing long into our Indian meal and drinks afterwards. The kind that made me want to book tickets to go and see it again when it comes to Manchester. The kind that made me want to hang around and meet the actors afterwards and get them all to sign my programme. To put it simply – a bloody good play.

The concept was fairly simple. Set not long after the incidents on top of the Reichenbach Falls, Holmes is listless and depressed, opting to retire instead of taking any more cases. Nothing new there. We’ve all heard that story before in a dozen other Sherlock Holmes plays.

The interesting part comes in the form of Mycroft. It was the most unusual and unique portrayal of the elder Holmes brother I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t exactly canon, but I justified it to myself by reasoning that this was a Mycroft after he had finished being ‘the British government’ and besides which, this particular version of him was absolutely necessary in order for the plot to be believable – the main part of the story, and the case that invariably drags Holmes out of his retirement.

“You must not involve yourself with this case,” warns Lestrade after Mycroft has been arrested on the charge of treason. So what does Holmes do? The exact opposite, of course. He sets out with renewed determination to clear his brother’s name and stop him from getting executed. The particulars of the crime involve a top secret code developed by Mycroft, which has now apparently been intercepted, cracked and used against the government with devastating consequences, by agents unknown. And so begins the case…

Without going into too much detail and spoiling the plot for those planning to go and see it…there are two scenes with brilliant action, drama and tension; there’s an excellent Holmes drug-induced hallucinations scene; a couple of amusing Holmes/Watson moments; a slightly emotional conversation between the two brothers (or as emotional as the Holmes family gets ie. Completely awkward); code breaking, magic and illusions; and appearances or non-appearances from Irene Adler and Moriarty.

The production is a real mixture of drama, action, comedy, romance (Holmes-style), deduction and genius. It has some genuine laugh out loud moments, with enough casual canon references to please the Sherlockians, but nothing too heavy that might put off first-timers. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s family orientated, because there is reference to drug taking and some violence/gore, but there were a few kids in the theatre when I went and they seemed to enjoy it. It is however, definitely aimed at the wider public who may or may not have a very good knowledge of Holmes, which is why I think it will probably go on to London and do quite well. There’s something in there for everyone.

As I mentioned before, it gets you thinking and talking too, with Holmes only explaining part of his deduction process, and leaving the rest to the audience’s imagination, a clever device that leaves the whole thing open to interpretation and might well get people going to see it more than once.

Sherlock Holmes – The Best Kept Secret is at New Victoria Theatre in Woking from 11th-15th June and at Manchester Opera House from 25th-29th June.

If you can get to see it, please do, I’d recommend it. Don’t take it too seriously or expect it to be completely canon, because it’s not, but it is an excellent play and you’ll have a good laugh and be immersed in their world for a couple of hours. Well worth it.