×

Sherlock’s Last Case

"I shall not rest till I have his testicles in the palm of my hand," vows Sherlock Holmes of the villain he plans to apprehend in Charles Marowitz's 21-year-old perennial. Holmes is an "arrogant, supercilious, egocentric, narcissistic, smug and self-congratulatory bastard," and Marowitz has given Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary character a battery of sharp, biting lines. The problem is that Time Winters, in the title role, plays it too heavily and seriously, reducing the humor and enabling second banana Watson (Louis Lotorto) to commit grand theatrical larceny and walk off with the show.

With:
Sherlock Holmes - Time Winters Dr. Watson - Louis Lotorto Mrs. Hudson - Lisa Beezley Liza - Pat Caldwell Inspector Lestrade - Brett Elliott An Imposter - Timothy Zurich Damion - Carter Yepsen

“I shall not rest till I have his testicles in the palm of my hand,” vows Sherlock Holmes of the villain he plans to apprehend in Charles Marowitz’s 21-year-old perennial. Holmes is an “arrogant, supercilious, egocentric, narcissistic, smug and self-congratulatory bastard,” and Marowitz has given Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary character a battery of sharp, biting lines. The problem is that Time Winters, in the title role, plays it too heavily and seriously, reducing the humor and enabling second banana Watson (Louis Lotorto) to commit grand theatrical larceny and walk off with the show.

This is a comedic twist, since the character of Watson has lived in Holmes’ shadow and secretly seethes over Holmes’ low estimate of him as a mediocre, invisible drone. Only fleeting glimpses of Watson’s resentment appear at first, and his feigned concern for Holmes’ welfare seems genuine after Holmes learns the son of deceased arch-enemy Professor Moriarty is planning to kill him.

Despite lethal jeopardy, the story takes time to kick in. Holmes’ sobbingly emotional maid, Mrs. Hudson (Lisa Beezley), gets laughs in her early scenes, but her broad responses confirm Watson’s remark, “Mrs. Hudson, you must learn to restrain yourself.” British accents are self-consciously thick blankets weighing down the wittiness of Marowitz’s dialogue.

The overall touch lightens when Liza (Pat Caldwell), sister of the man who wants to murder Holmes, arrives at 221-B Baker St. to stress imminent calamity. Stylishly dressed by A. Jeffrey Schoenberg in a green print gown, Caldwell is properly attractive and enigmatic, justifying Holmes’ infatuated statement, “You have the brightest, most intense and exciting eyes I have ever seen in a woman.”

Since the dour Sherlock inspires no emotional investment, concern for his welfare never develops, and the presence of cloddish Inspector Lestrade (Brett Elliott) does little to stimulate suspense. When Elliott utters a sparkling line, such as “you shattered me” after learning of Watson’s true nature, he exhibits acting talent, but in general it’s a thankless role.

Nearly an hour of the play feels like ponderous prelude, until Holmes and Watson enter an isolated old mill and Watson’s brilliantly nefarious scheme to eliminate his patronizing nemesis becomes apparent.

Lotorto, skillfully directed by David Rose, builds the episode beautifully, beginning with low-key menace and expressing increasing satisfaction while strapping Holmes to a La Frontenac chair and spelling out his grisly goal. When Watson says, “How you enjoy lording it over your bumbly, slow-witted, treacle-minded aide-de-camp … your selfless, fawning, ever-faithful Boswell,” the speech, and Lotorto’s multidimensional delivery of it, constitute crackling theater.

Following this seemingly perfect crime, Lotorto’s portrayal continues to deepen the character, highlighting him as a happy solo master of the house. The only inconvenience is interviewing impostors claiming to be Holmes, and he has another beguiling moment flinging a host of questions at one especially convincing candidate — Winters, in clownish brown plaid suit, letting hilariously loose and displaying the comic chops missing from his other scenes.

“Sherlock’s Last Case,” the first production of the Colony’s 30th-anniversary season, is one of its most impressively mounted productions, dense with details that evoke 1897 Victorian London. David Potts’ revolving set divides its time between Holmes’ elegant flat with hourglass, pipe rack and red flower wallpaper, and the stony, darkly sinister mill. The mill sequences are further enhanced by Jeremy Pivnick’s lighting, which gives them a dank, ominous air.

Sherlock's Last Case

Colony Theater; 276 seats; $40 top

Production: A Colony Theater Company presentation of a play in two acts by Charles Marowitz. Directed by David Rose.

Crew: Sets, David Potts; costumes, A. Jeffrey Schoenberg; lighting, Jeremy Pivnick; sound, Drew Dalzell; production stage manager, Vernon Willet. Opened, reviewed June 11, 2005; runs through July 10. Running time: 2 HOURS, 20 MIN.

Cast: Sherlock Holmes - Time Winters Dr. Watson - Louis Lotorto Mrs. Hudson - Lisa Beezley Liza - Pat Caldwell Inspector Lestrade - Brett Elliott An Imposter - Timothy Zurich Damion - Carter Yepsen

More Scene

  • David Crosby

    David Crosby Says New Documentary 'Remember My Name' Is Like 'Being Naked in Public’

    “It’s not easy. It’s hard being naked in public,” David Crosby, the legendary troubadour of classic rock, reflected at Tuesday night’s New York City premiere of “David Crosby: Remember My Name.” “I don’t know what to do here. There’s no guitars, no drums,” he laughed. Directed by newcomer A.J. Eaton and produced by the legendary [...]

  • The Ultimate Guide to 2019 Comic-Con

    The Ultimate Guide to 2019 Comic-Con Parties and Activations

    Hollywood is heading down the California coast to San Diego because It’s time for 2019 Comic-Con International. The annual cosplay celebration officially kicks off tomorrow, July 18, with a preview happening tonight. Here, Variety gives you a guide to this year’s parties and activations. Make sure to check back for updates. Wednesday, July 17Amazon Prime [...]

  • Sir Elton John, David Furnish. Sir

    New Elton John AIDS Foundation Gala to be Held in the South of France

    Elton John and David Furnish are launching a new gala for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The two will host the inaugural A Midsummer Party benefit on July 24 in the south of France at the Johnny Pigozzi’s private estate, Villa Dorane, in Cap d’Antibes. A cocktail reception will be followed by dinner, a live [...]

  • Dwayne Johnson Idris Elba

    Dwayne Johnson: Idris Elba Nixed 'Black James Bond' Joke in 'Hobbs & Shaw'

    In the “Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw,” the movie’s villain Brixton, played by Idris Elba, spreads his arms out wide and declares “I’m black Superman.” It turns out that might not have been the original line. Dwayne Johnson tells Variety that Elba was first asked to proclaim he’s “black James Bond,” but the [...]

  • Matteo BocelliAmerican Icon Awards Gala, Inside,

    Top Music Manager Calls Out American Icon Awards for Failing to Pay Talent

    The centuries-old adage no good deed goes unpunished is a common refrain for star music manager Scott Rodger of late. Rodger, who represents Paul McCartney and Andrea Bocelli at Maverick, says his client Matteo Bocelli, the son of the opera star, was stiffed out of promised expense reimbursement by the American Icon Awards. The event, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content