April 24: Pantaloons and Sherlock Holmes!

In Bedford there is a small theatre called The Place. I’ve been there for a number of performances in the past as well as auditions and a rehearsal to take photographs for the programme and foyer of a performance. Back at the beginning of March I was invited by two friends from church to go to the theatre to see a performance called Sherlock Holmes. It’s the latest touring performance by a theatre company called The Pantaloons and sort of coincided with kicking off my birthday weekend which includes a trip to London with my Mum and a trip to visit Chris’s Auntie.

I had a read of the description on The Place’s website and accepted the invite. It looked very exciting. Having grown up on various different incarnations of Sherlock Holmes (current regularly played ones in our house are Benedict Cumberbatch’s and Johnny Lee Miller) I know the stories quite well.

I met my two friends in the foyer of the theatre and we took our seats. The Place Theatre is different to a lot of other theatres as the stage as audience on three sides with a large audience space in the middle and then two small sections to the left and right. We sat in one of the smaller sections close to the front.

Sherlock Holmes by The Pantaloons

Source – The Pantaloon’s Twitter

There was an official start but prior to that the four members of the cast milled around the stage and chatted to each other and people in the audience. Then when the performance started there was an official introduction and kick off to the performance. I had a read of their Facebook page after the performance when I got home and there was a mention of Commedia Dell’Arte – we’d studied bits and pieces about it when I was doing A Level Drama and Theatre Studies. There was lots of improvisation around a framework of a story – in our case this meant we had part of the story of The Speckled Band and part of the story of The Hound of The Baskervilles as well as extra bits added in for good measure.

There were quite a few bits of audience participation – so if you prefer that your actors stay on stage and don’t break the “fourth wall” then this wouldn’t have been for you. At one point, one of the actors had come along our row and stood right in front of me – was a little awkward but was still funny and fitted with what was happening at that point in time.

There were little nods to other incarnations of Sherlock (as well as incarnations of Doctor Watson). My favourite moment that myself and my friend spotted was the use of a coconut shell for horse hooves (we are both Monty Python fans – even though I’m sure they’d pretty much disbanded before either of us were born!)

We all laughed quite a lot throughout the performance and although there are a couple of puns close to the mark all in all it’s good humour and would be okay for older children. There was a lad there who was about 9 or 10 and he seemed to enjoy it as much as we did.

On the programme and mentioned at the end of the performance was the two productions The Pantaloons are touring in the summer and if they are as good as this evening’s then they’ll be well worth the effort to get there. The two dates that are closest to Bedford would make me either holding a baby, overdue or VERY OVERDUE! I really enjoyed this evening’s performance so might see depending on how well I’m doing (or how stir crazy I’m going!) to see if I can get tickets on the night to the History of Britain show – might see if my Dad wants to come too. I imagine it would be up his street.

The History of Britain