Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Hypothetical Review: Sherlock Holmes, The Final Adventure

If I were reviewing "Sherlock Holmes, The Final Adventure," I would have researched more about the play before the viewing.

I would have liked to know more about the characters and their relationships with one another. I had a hard time understanding the history between Holmes and his arch-nemesis Dr. Moriarty, for example. The reason why I was supposed to hate the doctor and root for Holmes was lost on me. When reviewing a show that's part of a larger series, it's always good to be familiar with the previous installments.

Knowing more about the Kalamazoo Civic, too, would be helpful in constructing my review. It's important to factor in things like budget, actor experience, director experience, rehearsal time, etc... when reviewing a performance. Knowing the limits and constraints of a production, I think, would help me make a more fair evaluation.

With so many adaptations of Sherlocks Holmes (and across so many mediums), it would be hard to compare The Civic's productions to the other versions that are out there. Knowing relevant context about the theater company itself and the larger Sherlock Holmes story would have been beneficial to a review.

For me, reviewing theater can be less challenging than reviewing a movie. I've been deeply involved in theater- high school, community, and professional- since I was eight years old and have a solid background in the medium. I think this is an advantage for reviewing plays and musicals, since I may pick up on aspects of the show that others would not.

In the context of Sherlock Holmes, for example, I noticed several things that perhaps my peers did not. For starters, the actors did not stand far enough off in the wings before their entrances. I was sitting on House Left and could see the toes and hands of actors off stage. For an audience member, this kills the magic. It distracts from what's happening on stage and shows the actor outside of his or her character. Secondly, some of the actors had trouble cheating out and turned too far upstage when delivering lines.

I also recognize the limits of community theater. For a low budget shows comprised mostly of volunteers, I thought the costumes and sets were well done. Finding a local actor who can convincingly plays Holmes is also quite a feat.  Overall, the play was mostly what I would expect from community theater.

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