In a dark and stormy theatre, a group of performers are rehearsing for the opening of Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, under the direction of Katherine Van Patten ’17. Van Patten is directing the play in conjunction with her senior thesis work in theatre, and has been in charge of each aspect of production since September. The play revisits the character of Sherlock Holmes, master detective, in the context of saving the King of Bohemia before encountering age-old adversaries Irene Adler and Professor Moriarty.
Describing the play as “classic adventure fun,” Van Patten indicates that the drama will please all audiences.
Amanda San Roman ’17, playing the supporting role of Madge Larrabee, believes that the play emphasizes identity. Citing Holmes’ various disguises throughout the play, San Roman states that “it’s not until he lets his true colors show that he can truly be happy.” Describing the show as “complicated” and “exciting,” it seems as though audiences are in for a night of contemplation as well as entertainment.
With regards to her experience, San Roman struggled to portray the “wicked” Larrabee. San Roman notes that Larrabee “has lots of sass and pent up anger and frustration” due to her lack of agency. However, the character also demonstrates the behaviors of a “volatile criminal.” To overcome these challenges and access her character, San Roman drew inspiration from her peers.
Van Patten was intentional with her casting, crafting a specific group of performers who she thought would augment the play and emphasize her unique desires. The cast is warm and supportive of one another through the stresses of putting on this show. San Roman is “constantly surprised and impressed by [her] cast mates” and their capacity to work hard. For her, acting in Sherlock Holmes has been a lucky chance to engage with an interesting story and dedicated craftspeople.
Van Patten expressed her excitement for working with her cast and production team, “I’m super proud and thankful for all the work that everyone has put into this production. Without such a brilliant cast and brilliant designers I don’t think this play would be what it is today!”
Participating in a thesis performance brings its own challenges and rewards; of these, San Roman is inspired by her classmate of four years taking on a huge project with gusto and success. With many theses, the performers become integral to the creative process and production. In this regard, San Roman again noted the support system the cast has provided for Van Patten, indicating both a safe creative environment and a close-knit cast. As Van Patten mentions above, her designers and cast have helped her out immensely. Clearly, this group of artists created a healthy environment for exploration.
One last item of note is the role of gender in this play: both Van Patten and San Roman indicated how playwright Steven Dietz devalued the role of women on the stage and off through “sexist” and misogynistic dialogue. Van Patten hopes that her play will “get people to think about ideas of women’s representation and opportunities in theater.”
Look out for Sherlock Holmes in Gannett theater on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. This compelling play is one you won’t want to miss!