Sherlock Holmes

A play in three acts by Ouida Rathbone, based on the original stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Opened at the New Century Theatre, New York, October 30, 1953, and closed on October 31, 1953, after only three performances. Staged by Reginald Denham.

Cast of characters

Dr. John Watson Jack Raine
Sherlock Holmes Basil Rathbone
Mrs. Hudson Elwyn Harvey
Rt. Hon. Trelawney Hope John Dodsworth
Arthur Cadogan West Richard Wendley
Lady Hope Eileen Peel
Eduardo Lucas Gregory Morton
Anna Margit Forssgren
Count Louis De Rothiere Chester Stratton
Irene Adler Jarmila Novotna
Walker Terence Kilburn
Lestrade Bryan Herbert
Miss Alice Dunbar Mary Orr
Andrew Evan Thomas
Professor Moriarty Thomas Gomez
Hugo Oberstein Martin Brandt
Captain Von Herling Ludwig Roth
Prince Bulganin St. John Phillipe
Gregson Arthur N. Stenning
Villard Alfred A. Hesse
Act I  
  Scene 1 221 Baker Street, London, one evening in March, 1895
  Scene 2 16 Godolphin Square, the same night
  Scene 3 A dressing Room at Queen's Hall, the same night
Act II  
  Scene 1 221 Baker Street, the same night
  Scene 2 13 Caulfield Gardens, early the following morning
  Scene 3 A chalet overlooking the Reichenbach Falls, three days later
Act III The chalet overlooking the Reichenbach Falls, two months later
"Not William Gillette's famous old warhorse, but a new pastiche of Holmes material concerned chiefly with the theft of the Bruce-Partington submarine plans. After bouncing all over London, the play shifts to the Swiss chalet of Professor Moriarty, with Holmes and the professor vanishing in the locked-together death plunge from which Holmes had later, by popular demand, to be restored to life. In the present case, the plunge hardly mattered, since Holmes was scarcely alive to begin with."
[from The Best Plays of 1953-54, ed. by Louis Kronenberger (Dodd, Mead and Co., 1954), page 315.]
playbill for the Sherlock Holmes play

Rathbone with Thomas Gomez
Rathbone and Jack Raine in "Sherlock Holmes," 1953

Rathbone with Terry Kilburn

Trivia: Terry Kilburn played Billy in "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes."

"Like old soldiers, Conan Doyle's hero never really dies, though his return in this instance was providentially brief. It described in terms that alternated between seriousness and spoof how he protected England and the delicate balance of European power by recovering the Bruce-Partington submarine plans after they had been stolen from a distraught government employee by an international agent and had found their way (naturally) into the hands of Professor Moriarty. Ouida Rathbone's prolix script, which incorporated sections of several of the original stories, took Holmes from his Baker Street diggings to Moriarty's chalet where the adversaries staged their famous struggle on the brink of the Reichenbach Falls and where Holmes made his return in a disguise that fooled all but the wily professor and adult members of the audience.

Handsomely mounted, although too intricately staged, the production had the benefit of such performers as the master himself (and husband of the playwright), Basil Rathbone; Jarmila Novotna, who was a hansome Irene Adler and Thomas Gomez as the master criminal.

As all the critics remarked, it would have been nice to have had Holmes back under more fortunate circumstances; and as one of them pointed out, it would have been even more fortunate had it been possible to revive Doyle to do the script."
[review in Theatre Arts, January 1954, page 17]


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All original content is Marcia Jessen, 2010