Steve Hendrickson as Sherlock Holmes.
Photo courtesy Park Square Theatre
Part of the fun of a mystery story is trying to work out the elements of the plot, thrilling as the writer stays one step ahead of the audience on the ride to the end.
That doesn't happen in Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club, the new Jeffrey Hatcher play now at Park Square Theatre. I had most of the details of who, why, and how worked out by the middle of the first act,
That doesn't mean the evening has to be a wash, however. I've read and reread the original Holmes stories for more than 30 years, so the surprises of the plots have long been revealed. Beyond the mysteries, there is the essential appeal of the Great Detective and his faithful friend, Dr. Watson. That does come through here, which helps propel the play forward, especially in a second act largely devoid of surprises.
Hatcher goes to another Victorian author, Robert Louis Stevenson, for additional inspiration. The Suicide Club of the title is just that: a place where men gather to take the final step. Holmes infiltrates the organization at the behest of one of the members, a young Russian who has discovered he now has a reason to live.
There are a number of twists and turns along the way, and the plot eventually connects with more sinister global politics from the early part of the 20th century.
Steve Hendrickson once again steps into Holmes's shoes.The actor has the gaunt physique to match that of the character, and his penetrating gaze seems to always be surveying the surroundings for clues. He is matched with Bob Davis as Dr. Watson. Their relationship and chemistry take time to get going, but by the opening of the second act the two behave like the characters: old friends sharing another adventure.
The rest of the cast does solid work, though only Charity Jones as the Club Secretary and Nathan Christopher as the pastry-loving Mr. Williams stand out.
The production has a slick, clean look, aided by Michael Hoover's minimal set design. Hoover uses projection screens and a handful of settings to bring the various locations of London to life.
Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club
Through July 14
Park Square Theatre, 20 W. 7th Place, St. Paul
$38 and $58
For tickets and more information, call 651.291.7005 or visit online.