Book Review - The Dramatic Moment of Fate: The Life of Sherlock Holmes in the Theatre

Posted by Steve Emecz on

Sherlock Holmes Society of London

As Ms Kitty says, “Few literary characters have had such a long and illustrious stage presence.” It’s more than likely that, on any given day in normal times, somewhere in the world a play featuring Sherlock Holmes is being rehearsed or performed. The USA is ahead of the rest: after all, the American William Gillette was the first actor to play Holmes with Conan Doyle’s blessing, and the first to become identified with the character. A thorough survey of Holmesian productions in American theatres would need several volumes, even if it were possible, and this nice little book looks at the UK and Canada as well, with nods to other countries. The Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake gets deserved attention for its productions (Alexandra Kitty is a Canadian journalist, who was writing about fake news and the decline of journalism long before Donald Trump turned both to his political advantage) but the main focus is 425 miles south-east, on Broadway. Obviously this isn’t a thorough survey — and an index would be very welcome — but it’s informative, entertaining, and written with love.


The Dramatic Moment of Fate: The Life of Sherlock Holmes in the Theatre is available from this website (you'll be supporting our good causes).

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Sherlock Holmes has been a beloved character from his first story, and his mystique endures to the modern age in print, on screen – but he has had a long life in the theatre as well. Where did it begin? What are the themes, stories, and characterizations that make his stage presence unique and just as enduring?

 Follow his trail on the stage as author Alexandra Kitty curates his fascinating theatrical world throughout the decades: from unlikely Off-Broadway musicals to lauded slapstick comedies, to more traditional and gripping portrayals of his iconic stories and new incarnations. How does the world’s greatest detective fare in the theatre? The results are always shocking, but never disappointing.

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