The Manitoba Theatre Centre is kicking off its 2014 season with a quirky, clever interpretation of several Sherlock Holmes stories Wednesday night.
Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily has brought in the exceptionally talented Jay Hindle from Vancouver to play the part of Holmes himself, as well as Gil Garratt and Aidan deSalaiz from Toronto to round out an impressive cast.
“It’s a very accessible play. It’s very exciting, it’s very funny. There’s lots of good kind of spooky moments and creepy moments,” said director James MacDonald. “People love Sherlock Holmes. It’s great to see it on stage.”
Hindle looks and sounds uncannily like Hugh Jackman – making for a pretty charming interpretation of the typically aloof Sherlock Holmes.
Hindle’s spot-on accent comes in part from work with dialect coach Shannon Vickers and a little bit from his mom, who is British.
“It’s like the Queen’s dialect – it’s very proper, with a WH as a what, where, like Cool Wh-ip,” said Hindle. “I’ve worked in this dialect before.”
More difficult – figuring out exactly who knows what and when in the plot.
“The challenge was figuring out the twists and turns in the plots. It’s quite a convoluted plot,” said Hindle. “For the first two days of rehearsals it was table work. We sat down and made sure everyone knew what the story was they’re telling.”
Hindle has worked everywhere from England to Los Angeles and has spent the last few weeks getting to know not only his character but the city of Winnipeg.
“The people in Winnipeg are nice to almost the point of I feel like I’m in alternate reality, because they’re actually interested in you. They connect on the streets,” said Hindle.
Hindle is joined on stage by a few of the usual suspects Dr. Watson (played by Carson Nattrass) and a few you might not expect.
“What the playwright has done is melded together about four Sherlock Holmes stories into one plot and then she’s introduced into the plot the real-life characters of the time of Oscar Wilde, Lillie Langtry – who was the Beyoncé of the age,” said MacDonald.
A good ‘gateway’ play – but not for families
“It really is a good gateway to the theatre for a lot of people if they haven’t come because it’s a very accessible story, it’s very funny and there’s lots of excitement and mystery in it,” said MacDonald.
But that still doesn't mean you should bring the whole family — unless you're of the same mind as MacDonald.
“Some of it might be a little scary for younger kids but, I don’t know, I’m of the opinion I’ve been going to the theatre since I was about six years old so I don’t have a problem with it. It’s certainly not a family play in any way,” he said.
That isn't to say kids shouldn't come, though.
“I always think if you bring your eight, nine, ten year old to the theatre, I always think they have a great time and they see things in it, you know, as adults we tend to be intellectual in the theatre but they just let it wash over them in a great way,” he said. “Especially in the day when they’re in their Xboxes and iPhones seeing something live on the stage means something so incredible to them.”
For $25, you can see Sherlock live in action at the MTC until Oct. 25 – and if you’re under 25, there’s a discounted rate.