Friday, September 15, 2017

A wave of theater Sherlocks?

It seems like my Google News feed has, of late, decided that Howard Ostrom is their best model for news of Sherlock Holmes.

Theatrical adaptation after theatrical adaptation are all the headlines. Moffat and Gatiss seem to have run out of rumors to spread about potential future seasons for Sherlock, probably getting their heads down to work out their Dracula series. Will Farrell's movie is more than a year off, Elementary is still many months away, and no other major Sherlock Holmes promotions seem to be on the national or international stage.

But the local stages?

It's almost like a requirement that every major city had to have at least one production of a Sherlock Holmes play in 2017, and all the major city wannabees as well. Which makes me wonder . . . just what is it that brings a local Sherlock Holmes to the stage?

Are they just obvious aftershocks of a few big years of mainstream Holmes?

Or is Sherlock Holmes just a character that egomaniacal actors with pull at their local playhouse want to play?

Is it that older folks tend to be theater audiences and Sherlock has long been a draw with older crowds? (A good test of that -- how many stage Sherlocks are under forty?)

Or are there just particularly well-written Sherlock Holmes plays in circulation around the local theater circuit these days?

All of the above?

It would make a fascinating chart if one could gather counts of the number of different productions of Sherlock Holmes plays that were performed every year since he first took the stage over a hundred years ago. It would probably be an easy thing to cross-reference its peaks with surges in Sherlock's popularity in books and film, but one has to wonder if any anomalies outside of those expected peaks would show up. Or worrisome . . . what if he was hugely popular just before World Wars?

Hopefully that's not the case now. It could simply be that there are more humans on Earth than ever before, and for every X number of humans there must always be one production of a Sherlock Holmes play . . . a simple product of our collective hivemind, which the great detective is definitely a part of. And they'll always be there, just more noticeable when one isn't being distracted by the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, etc.

But Holmes went from book to stage to film to television, and in the end, he'll probably wind down in the very reverse of that order, if his cycle does decide to wind down at some point, before revving up again.

And on the Baker Street parade will go.


  1. quite often the play is the Gillette one - it is playing here next month - but I skip those - need a little variety

    1. Understandable. We need at least 60 theatrical Holmes stories to vary things a little.