On Wednesday 24th April, I went to see a production of The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes at Hoxton Hall in London. I knew it was a musical, but other than that, I didn’t have a clue what to expect.

Arriving about five minutes late due to a tube delay, I snuck in and took a seat in a hard-backed folding chair, not the most comfortable of arrangements but the Hall obviously has multiple uses and is not a full time theatre. The cast were in the middle of their opening number, a full on musical piece with complete with dancing and outrageous costumes. For the first couple of minutes I just sat their open mouthed, unsure what to make of it all. Once I’d settled down and got used to the idea that they were going to be bursting into song occasionally, the whole evening flowed a lot better.

I felt the play had the right mixture between dialogue and musical numbers so that the plot wasn’t completely lost in song and difficult to follow, as I’ve experienced with some other musicals. And there was a plot. Quite a decent one too. Set post-Reichenbach immediately after Holmes’ return from the dead and he is bored and depressed, feeling he has reached the pinnacle of his career in the defeat of Moriarty and that he might as well retire, that he was nothing without Moriarty and that he actually missed him and that no new cases could interest him. Invariably though…something happens to change his mind, and things get a little more intriguing with a good twist near the end that wasn’t entirely a surprise but enjoyable none the less.

The acting performances were solid and professional throughout, the singing was of top quality, and I particularly liked the little moments where they broke the fourth wall and recognised the fact that there was an audience, almost in pantomime style. This was Mrs Hudson’s domain, and her character did that rather a lot to great effect and amusement from the small but appreciative crowd.  There was also excellent choreography with some brilliant dance moves and the surprising but fantastic touch was the inclusion of genuine magic tricks including disappearing acts and Mrs Hudson getting sawn in half.

On a Holmesian note, the play works perfectly well for theatre go-ers with no previous knowledge of Sherlock Holmes, but there’s enough little references and classic nods to please the scholars too, and I was pleased to note they didn’t use the cliched line of “elementary my dear Watson” instead turning it round so that it’s Watson who says “elementary my dear Lestrade”! (Lestrade was a bumbling idiot in this particular production, which was hilarious to watch).

There were a couple of moments where I couldn’t always hear the words to the quieter parts of the songs over the orchestra/band and the first half was incredibly long, so much so that I initially thought they were running the whole play without an interval, but on the whole I really enjoyed the production and would reccommend it to others for a fun night out.