SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE FINAL ADVENTURE
at Park Square Theatre through June 22
Steven Dietz's Sherlock Holmes adaptation opens with the news that the super-sleuth is dead, then spools back in time to a point at which Holmes (Steve Hendrickson) summons stalwart Watson (Bob Davis) to Baker Street for a confab after some time apart. It seems Holmes has fallen into a bit of a trough, the kicks of his world of hyper-reality, observation, and intuition having been replaced by enthusiastic drug abuse (Holmes lolls in his smoking jacket after shooting up cocaine, while the clearly disapproving Watson monitors his junkie pal's pulse). This nod to the seamy side of the Holmes myth is dispensed with quite early, though, and what follows in this Peter Moore-directed production is crisp entertainment. Holmes is enlisted by the King of Bohemia (E.J. Subkoviak), who is due to be betrothed to a Scandinavian princess but is being blackmailed over a photo of himself and an old flame, onetime opera diva Irene Adler (Virginia Burke). Holmes himself is smitten with Irene, having swooned over a recording of her voice in the opening scene. If this connection seems irritatingly improbable to you, then you've walked into the wrong play. From here on out it's all disguises, fake identities, scurvy henchmen, and the rotten-hearted mastermind Professor Moriarty (James Cada), who mans the puppet strings of the London underworld (the impact of his murderous evil on his tenure prospects is never discussed). Events lead, as they must, to the final showdown between Holmes and Moriarty, and if you're familiar with the Holmes stories, there aren't a lot of surprises. But Hendrickson is a treat as Holmes, sailing from scene to scene with a nicely ironic, superior detachment, then turning befuddled and clueless when he tries to squire Irene. Davis bites into Watson's combination of nonplussed disbelief and utter devotion to Holmes, and Cada seethes and barks as Moriarty. There's nothing remotely revolutionary here, but it's a two-hour diversion that will make you wish you had a bag of popcorn in your lap.