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The games afoot with another mysterious tale for the master detective. Ian Waller is on the case…

Sherlock Holmes is back – again. Can there be a more portrayed detective than the master of sleuth of Baker Street, the star of books, comics, TV, stage and film? His latest resurrection sees him at the grand old Theatre Royal Bath in a production of Sir Author Conan Doyle’s final Holmes novel, The Valley of Fear, with the Holmes and his loyal companion Doctor John Watson summoned to solve a grisly murder in, where else, a remote country house.

The production sees the story told across two time periods, 20 years apart, and two continents, with the on-stage action flip-flopping between the two. This technique sees the talented cast of only five actors each having to take on several parts each, which while impressive, is also somewhat confusing as you try to keep up with who is who.

In addition, this isn’t quite Conan Doyle at his peak – the core murder plot is actually somewhat predictable and a number of clues actually quite clumsy. But what this story does offer is a comfortable, easy going, perfect for a midweek at the theatre type of experience.

As each story unfolds, it’s left to Holmes and the audience, to predict the links between the two and work out, of course, whodunnit…

Front and centre we have Bobby Bradley giving his take on the Mr Holmes, with Joseph Derrington as his friend and chronicler, Watson. Both inhabit their roles with clear enthusiasm and talent. However, from Bradley in particular, his apparent youth appears to be a barrier to his ability to imbue Holmes with the necessary depth and gravitas that the character demands. Instead we’re given what appears more of a nod to a combination of classic characterisations of the past from Jeremy Brett and Basil Rathbone, rather than a fresh embrace through a new lens.

Derrington, meanwhile, is better suited as Watson, still loyal but perhaps growing just a little wearisome of Holmes’ peculiar ways and superior manner. While it’s through Watson’s commentary that the stories progress, I did find the occasional background noise of a chattering old school typewriter a little distracting.

Across the board the the actors impress with their abilities to jump from role to role, and special note should go to Alice Osmanski for her thoroughly modern Mrs Hudson and Gavin Molloy for a genuinely threatening cameo as the evil Professor Moriarty.

Sherlock Holmes The Valley Of Fear is an entertaining and easy production, which while not hitting the all the high notes, still provides an entertaining evening out

Sherlock Holmes: The Valley of Fear appears at the Theatre Royal Bath from Tuesday 16th to Saturday 20th April. To book tickets contact the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 or visit