A who is it whodunit

(Left to right) Dr. Watson, Dr. Evans and the Matron, played by Warren Haley, Dan Luesink and Theresa Smith, pose for a photo. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

A whodunit featuring the world’s greatest detective is coming to the Prince Albert stage next week, but this time the mystery isn’t to be solved by Sherlock Holmes, it is to be about him.

Holmes and Watson takes place after Sherlock Holmes’ apparent death at Reichenbach Falls. Dr. Watson receives a telegram inviting him to an insane asylum, where three men each claim to be Sherlock Holmes. It’s up to Watson and Dr. Evans to determine which of the three men is the real deal.

“It’s a murder mystery, a whodunit, a who is it — who is Sherlock Holmes,” said director Mat Derworiz.

“It’s been a  lot of fun. We have been focusing on identity and how identity determines our own perspectives of ourselves and others’ perspectives of us.”

While the play shares a name with the critically-panned film starring John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell, that’s the only similarity. The plot isn’t the same. Unlike the movie, the play is a mystery, not a comedy, and came out in 2018. The film was first announced in 2008. Derworiz stressed that the two are very different. He said the play will be “infinitely better.”

The local performance, put on by Odyssey productions, welcomes some familiar faces and some relative newcomers into the roles.

Warren Haley, who made his theatre debut with Prince Albert Community Players in last year’s Robin Hood Caper, is this show’s Dr. Watson.

While that play was a comedy with some mystery, this role brings Haley a different challenge.

 “I’m a big fan of Sherlock Holmes. I grew up reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, and of course I watched the movies and TV series,” he said.

“It’s something that is so personal, I want to portray it well. There’s been a  lot of polishing. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been a lot of fun.”

Playing opposite Haley is Dan Luesink, cast as Dr. Evans.

Two Sherlock Holmes pose with Dr. Evans, centre. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Luesink has been in several recent productions, including playing Banquo in Macbeth, the Horse and a child in Sleepy Hollow and Mitch in a Streetcar Named Desire.

“Dr. Evans is this person who thinks he can provide a diagnosis as to what the real Sherlock Holmes is, but there are some things about Dr. Evans people don’t know,” Luesink explained.

‘Dr. Evans is an interesting fellow — he comes from a varied background and he’s a bit snooty. He also looks down on Watson, which is ironic because they’re both doctors, they’re both educated and they both want to get to the truth.”

Luesink said that Dr. Evans may be his biggest role to date.

“There have been a lot of lines to learn and that has been challenging for me in some ways,” he said.

“I’m having a lot of fun pretending to be who I’m not really.”

The cast had good things to say about director Derworiz, who has directed many children’s plays. He has also been cast in recent local shows as an actor, playing Stanley in Streetcar Named Desire and also appearing in Macbeth.

“Mat’s got great focus. He has a vision of what he wants, Haley said of his director.

“He’s incredibly respectful and encouraging to everyone here. I would definitely, hands down, work for him again.”

Derworiz, who is pleased with how the show is coming together, thanked the cast, stage manager and the rest of the team for their help.

“It’s been a lot of fun to do theatre in a totally open way,” he said.

“I’ve got a great team, and this is a team effort.”

Holmes and Watson runs at Plaza 88 from Thursday, March 14 until Saturday, March 16. Tickets for Thursday’s show only performance are $25. Doors open at 6:30 and the show starts at 7. The Friday and Saturday shows are dinner theatre performances. Dinner starts at 7 and the show at 8. Tickets for those nights are $55. Tickets are available at Canadian Tire.