Playwright: C.P. Stancich
Company: Theatre Company of Lafayette
Venue: Mary Miller Theater, 300 E. Simpson Street, Lafayette CO.
Running Time: 1 hour 35 minutes (includes 15 minute intermission)
Date of Performance: Saturday, March 5, 2016.
Sherlock Holmes: Assassins at Sea (hereafter Assassins) is the fifth Theatre Company of Lafayette (TCL) production of playwright C.P. Stancich’s works in the style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s originals. Doyle’s enduring crime stories are legendary, and Stancich revives Doyle’s classic characters in his own plays. Thanks to Stancich, detective extraordinaire Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson have come back to life on the TCL stage for Assassins.
Stancich’s series now has six plays, and TCL has produced five of them. Like a pub with a house band, TCL has lovingly adopted the British sleuth and his devoted American audience. Opening night was a sell out crowd, as was the performance we saw the next evening. There’s no shortage of Sherlock Holmes fans in Lafayette, and the Stancich/TCL team knows how to give those fans what they like.
Assassins is another Holmes hit for TCL and Stancich. The script has plenty of disguises, twists, and turns to keep the audience guessing. Given that the story is in the mystery genre, I can’t go into plot details without spoiling the story. Suffice it to say that fans of Doyle’s original works won’t be disappointed, and fans of Stancich will be pleased to see his sense of humor permeating the plot.
The TCL production starts with a striking set. Chris Pash and Sarah Spencer have designed a gorgeous setting that works remarkably well for all three locations (Baker Street, an alley, and aboard the ship Elyssia). Sitting in our seats before the show began gave us an opportunity to enjoy the meticulous fit and finish of Pash and Spencer’s design.
Costume Designer Kim deJager’s work was also splendid; she not only had to fit the cast with appropriate turn of the 19th century outfits, but also with intricate disguises. The costumes have the same attention to detail as the set.
Director Fred Finke has put together a talented cast. He makes full use of his beautiful set, blocking 7-8 actors at a time on the stage. He has insisted that the cast keep the British accents as authentic as possible while never missing a beat or a mark. The entire performance seems carefully and professionally orchestrated.
|Don Thumim (Sherlock Holmes).|
Actor Don Thumim is Holmes, and he’s the right guy for the role. Thumim is a veteran of the TCL stage, having last appeared there as a hunk. His Holmes is considerably more respectable, as he should be. Thumim’s range clearly includes both hunk and hero, and perhaps he will eventually get a role that requires both qualities.
Greg Christopher plays Watson, and he’s a gem. Christopher is locked in on Watson, and he’s got a fine British accent. Joe Illingworth (as Oscar Dove) blends his gestures and facial expressions into his performance, delivering some of the best moments in the show. Spencer Womack plays Busby and carries the role with graceful dignity and a wink.
|Greg Christopher (Watson).|
The Assassins ladies are equally as capable. Danice Crawford plays Olga Belasov in a white wig and with a wicked smile. Not only that, but don’t mess with her. She’s packing. Yes. She has a gun in her purse. (Crawford pulls double duty, also appearing as Sigrid Simm). Sierra Burgoyne (May), Kristin VanEtten (Lady Constance) and Roz Bard (Mrs. Hudson/Trudy) add punch and humor to the proceedings
|L-R Hanna Richards (Claudia), Spencer Womack (Busby),|
and Sierra Burgoyne (May).
I do have a quibble with Assassins. It’s a mystery, and clues needed to solve the mystery are sprinkled throughout the script. The audience needs to pay careful attention to the details. Unfortunately, some lines are difficult to discern, sometimes due to the British accents and at other times due to the ambient noise of the Elyssia engines. Perhaps the sound mix could be tweaked to reduce the interference. As for the accents, one of the actors gets it completely right. Joe Illingworth’s lines are as clear as a bell. His delivery style is one that could be a model for the other actors.
As is typical of TCL productions, Assassins is a polished production with very good acting and direction. The Lafayette community is lucky to have such a dedicated and accomplished theater company performing in a historic local landmark. Whether you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan or not, Assassins is a great night out at the Mary Miller theater.
|Spencer Womack (Busby).|
This show is suitable for (and recommended for) all ages. Even if there’s no food truck, the Odd 13 Brewing Company is a fine place to stop before or after the show.
This show closes on March 26, 2016.
PRE/POST SHOW RESTAURANT SUGGESTION:
We went to dinner with friends before the show at the Boulder Cork, 3295 30th Street, Boulder. It’s one of the more mature steak houses in the area, operating at the same location for over 45 years. Known for the Prime Rib, the Cork is a great place for a special occasion. Which it was: Denver Restaurant Week. For $60/couple, you can get an app, an entree (don’t miss the Prime Rib), and a dessert.
The service and the food were exemplary. If you’ve never been to the Cork, or if it has been a while since your last visit, you might want to make a reservation. I’m sure it will be on the Denver Restaurant Week list in 2017, so put a reminder in your smart phone. Do the Cork with a discount during restaurant week.
For a really special time, go with some friends. We did…and it was delightful.
Producer/Production Manager: Madge Montgomery
Director: Fred Finke
Assistant Director: Marsha Morton
Scenic Design: Chris Pash/Sarah Spencer
Sound Design/Sound Board Operator: Tom Priestly
Lighting Design: Brian Miller
Costume Design/Properties: Kim deJager
Stage Manager: Marsha Morton
Rehearsal Assistant: Pat Smith
Sherlock Holmes: Don Thumim
John Watson: Greg Christopher
Oscar Dove: Joe Illingworth
Lady Constance: Kristin VanEtten
May: Sierra Burgoyne
Claudia: Hannah Richards
Olga Belaslova/Sigrid Simm: Danice Crawford
Barlow/Purser/Thug: Roger Bolan
Busby: Spencer Womack
Steward/Thug: Stefanie Oke