Victoriana Gone Wild

Everyone knows that Fringe is the best time of year, and just generally the best thing ever.  So it was quite a delight to my fanboy ears to hear a show that has a solid Fringe touring track record was making its way onto the current Gladstone Theatre schedule.  Coming courtesy of Black Sheep Theatre and director Dave Dawson, SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE CASE OF THE HANSOM CAB KILLER is an hour and a half Victorian mystery-farce starring Chris Bange, Brian Kuwabara and Emily Windler as a plethora of characters, often in dizzyingly rapid succession.  I knew Chris Bange from previous Fringe shows like HOUDINI’S LAST ESCAPE and THE FAT GUY SHOW, and was pretty stoked to see what he had up his sleeve this time around.

Taking on the role of the Great Detective himself (among others), Bange and trusty assistant Doctor Watson (Kuwabara) meet the odd, awkwardly gloved Doctor Meriweather (Windler), who introduces them to the titular mystery of the disappearing Hansom Cab, via a pretty amusing shadow puppet gimmick that gets good use throughout the show. Holmes races off to solve the case…as does his housekeeper Mrs.Hudson (Windler again), who turns out to be the secret brains behind the Sherlock brand.  With her own assistant Winnifred (Kuwabara), they track the various clues, miscreants, and random trips to the pub until the criminal mastermind is finally uncovered.  Or is he..?

HOLMES is a pretty madcap romp indeed, almost intentionally shambotic in presentation as multiple quick-changes into outstanding wigs and preposterous moustaches interlace with a heroic volume of sex gags and, more often than not, even more sex gags.  Yes, this show is pretty indulgently juvenile at times, but luckily it’s being performed by three proper goddamn clowns who know a thing or two about making fools of themselves in the best possible way.  It’s almost at its most amusing when something goes wrong, and you get to sit back and watch how the gang is going to improv a solution with consistently hilarious results. Writer Bange makes a great, if somewhat less than inspiring Holmes, as well as multiple iterations of the same eerie servant.  Kuwabara has a blast as the loudmouthed Winnifred, stealing scenes with obvious delight.  And Emily Windler is just marvellous as the keen Mrs.Hudson, not to mention the gloriously nefarious Professor M.  This is lighthearted and goofy fun all around and I had a silly good time indeed.  If you’re in the mood for a smile (or if Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller are just a little too serious for your Sherlockian tastes), this bloody charming show is well worth a trip as it runs until the 26th.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

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