I feel like apologising that the first review I ever post on this site isn’t going to be a very favourable one, but I’d be lying if I said I had enjoyed the production of An Audience With Sherlock Holmes as presented by Andrew Meller at the Towngate Theatre’s Mirren Studio in Basildon, Essex on Friday 15th March 2013.

It wasn’t that I hated it. It just didn’t really do it for me. To start with, the title of the play is a little misleading in itself. Surely it isn’t too unfair to my intelligence that I presumed “an audience with Sherlock Holmes” would involve the actor walking out as Sherlock Holmes, portraying him as a character and telling the audience some of his favourite cases?

Sadly not, although I actually think the evening would have gone much better if Andrew Meller had taken on the role of either Holmes or Watson and told the stories “in character” either direct from the canon or possibly with brand new “untold” cases. As it happened, he was a sort of narrator without a set role telling the stories in the third person, which therefore meant they weren’t directly lifted from the canon but adaptations put into different words, sort of neither here nor there.

In the first half, he opened up with a short introduction telling us about Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, how they met and became friends etc, then launched into describing the Adventure of the Red Headed League, which took up the rest of that half. After the interval, he told us the Adventure of the Abbey Grange, both two great cases from Watson’s annals.

The storylines, characters and cases were the same, told in new words but with some of the classic lines from the canon kept in. This made it a little confusing for me as I was sat there thinking “oh, that’s definitely in the canon” then “but that bit’s not, hmm…” The worst ‘non-canon’ moment was the use of the phrase “elementary my dear Watson”, a cringeworthy few seconds for me.

Meller’s storytelling/acting was passable but I mostly listened with my eyes closed instead of watching the stage, as I felt he was making too many unneccessary hand movements and picking up props that he didn’t seem to do anything with. The variation in his voices could have been perfected a little more too. I certainly didn’t realise Jabez Wilson was a Yorkshireman but then again there’s some scholars who argue that Holmes himself was of Yorkshire descent. One man shows are always hard however, and he made a good effort.

A production like this might be interesting and enjoyable to someone with a casual interest in Holmes or someone just beginning to develop their interest, but to any seasoned Sherlockian with a solid knowledge of the canon it just seems like a bit of a waste of time and not particularly exciting or new.