[2009001] Sherlock Holmes & The Saline Solution

Sherlock Holmes & The Saline Solution [FringeTIX]

Sound & Fury @ Le Cascadeur

7:15pm, Fri 20 Feb 2009

I’m writing this from a different place and time, pre-empting my post-show post, trying to get a head-start on my reporting of this year’s event. Because this is the first show of the year; it’s possibly the first and only post a lot of people will read, so it’s important to sink a bit of effort into it and make it appear – if only for a moment – that each and every post is thoughtful, researched, considered. But already I’ve run out of steam, and it’s looking likely that this post will look closer to the brief barely-worth-writing synopses of my earlier efforts than the heady tomes that were produced last year.

So let’s just write this off as a bad idea.

I’ve only seen one of Fringe regulars Sound & Fury’s shows before – the lamentably distant Canned Hamlet in 2004. Such was its impression on me that I’ve veered away from their subsequent re-imaginings (despite chatting with the lads via common friends almost every Fringe since), but I picked Sherlock Holmes & The Saline Solution out of the Guide on the basis that it sounded… well, original. An original story with their corny humour might indeed hit the spot, I surmised.

And so the Sound & Fury chaps (both Richard and Shelby playing Sherlock Holmes and Watson, with Vinny playing… everyone else) leap onstage and, after a bit of congenial patter with the audience, the show opens with the boys front and centre, playing straight, delivering a pacy staccato introduction which creates a great sense of place and mysterious menace. And then the jokes start.

Now, don’t get me wrong – Sound & Fury are very likable chaps, with a style that puts the audience at ease. But they produce shows that are essentially juvenile – pun-laden (and in the worst possible way – the tin-can and Moriarty puns are particularly groan-worthy) dialogue, no driving plot to speak of, and occasional bursts of profanity that feel forced. And they commit my most heinous of comedic theatre crimes – scene-breaking faux-ad-libs. But there’s plenty of redeeming features – as I said, they’re an affable lot, so you can’t help but appreciate their efforts. The sequences that bookend the performance are great, and there’s a well managed bit of audience interaction (watch out if you’re a front-row female).

Le Cascadeur is like a mini-Bosco – another wooden space with desperately uncomfortable wooden seats that are way too close together, leading to people twisting their bodies to avoid digging their knees into the backs of people sitting in front. And it’s quite clearly opening night – the Sound & Fury crew constantly gesturing (and even verbalising) cues to their sound and lighting techs, their manner indicating that these issues weren’t part of the show… and this banter added to the experience because, unlike the aforementioned faux-ad-libs, they feel honest, raw with their humour.

So – at the end of the day, we’re left with an essentially inoffensive pun-arific performance, plenty of cheap laughs, with a few niggles. Enjoyable enough, but is it worth $20? That pretty much depends on the competition.

“A very silly play,” says the flyer. Erm, quite.

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