There were several productions which won me over to the magic of theater, and one of them was a student staging of Sherlock Holmes stories in Leeds, England, in 1998. Each night for the last week of the term, Leeds University players put on two short Holmes stories. Already a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional accounts of this Victorian detective, I found them well suited to stage, with strong characters, a firm setting, and delicious plotlines.
For the last few years, Josh Hitchens and the Ebeneezer Maxwell Mansion have brought Holmes and Watson to life in an historic home in Northwest Philadelphia. April 17-19, Hitchens returns as Holmes, with Peter Zielinski as Dr. Watson, for an adaptation of THEVALLEY OF FEAR.
In the Mansion’s fourth annual Sherlock Holmes Victorian Theatre event, a coded message summons Sherlock Holmes to the aid of John Douglas, who is found dead before Holmes can get to him. Doyle’s novel is based on part on events which took place close to Philadelphia in the mines of the Pocono Mountains in the late 19th century, when “Molly Maguires” labor organizers were brutally put down by Pinkerton detectives.
The staging is presented in collaboration with the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians, and the weekend includes a special display from the medical oddity museum. The Saturday evening performance features remarks by Dr. Robert Hicks, director of the Mütter Museum. The Friday evening performance features an introduction by Victorian scholar, freelance writer, book reviewer and literary provocateur Edward G. Pettit. All performances include a champagne reception. The performances are held in the mansion’s intimate parlor, so seating is limited. [Ebeneezer Maxwell Museum, 200 West Tulpehocken Street] April 17-19, 2015; ebenezermaxwellmansion.org.