Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic character Sherlock Holmes will never go out of style and lately he’s proving to be more popular than ever thanks to 2009’s movie starring Robert Downey Jr., the ongoing British TV series with Benedict Cumberbatch, plus the current stage play. And just like those other recent endeavors, the Broadway In Chicago installment of “Sherlock Holmes” (which first premiered in Montreal in 2013) is packed with star power, including David Arquette (“Scream”) in the top slot, James Maslow (“Big Time Rush,” “Dancing With The Stars”) as Dr. John Watson and Renee Olstead (“Still Standing,” “The Secret Life Of The American Teenager”) as Lady Irene St. John.
Although its stay in Chicago may be brief, “Sherlock Holmes” is likely to provide longtime fans a proper fix, and even for more distant appreciators, serve as an endlessly interesting, family-friendly night out during the long holiday weekend.
Together, the talented trio, their equally strong ensemble and director Andrew Shaver tackle an original adaptation by Greg Kramer that intertwines several of Sherlock’s most famous scenes and scenarios, while keeping the tone perplexing and adventurous until the very end. The caper kicks off when a drowned body washes up on the shore, but considering its stripped of identification or any overt clues, there’s no way to identify any motive or suspect (until Scotland Yard calls Sherlock of course).
Along with sidekick Dr. Watson, the pair unravels one devious deduction at a time, eventually revealing a link between the kidnapping of a top government official (Lord Neville St. John) and an upcoming vote to ban the use of opium that would send drug lords of the underground into a total tailspin. Complicating matters are some inconsistencies in the leading Lady’s story about her missing husband, a corrupt cop and his buffoonish supervisor, but none are too shrewd or stupid for the mastermind detective to untangle.
Amidst it all, there’s a fairly steady stream of comic relief and eccentricity by all the crazy characters, though unlike the TV show that places the cast in modern times, “Sherlock Holmes” takes a more traditional approach to the tale. As a result, some of the language is a little old fashioned at times, and given everyone’s thick usage of English accents, the briskly spoken parts are a little hard to understand.
None of it’s glaring enough to distract from the otherwise exciting twists, turns and “whodunit?” cliffhangers, and thankfully, the captions flashed on the video screens above the action also help attendees stay on track. Although its stay in Chicago may be brief, “Sherlock Holmes” is likely to provide longtime fans a proper fix, and even for more distant appreciators, serve as an endlessly interesting, family-friendly night out during the long holiday weekend.