Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily
Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre Until Oct. 25 Tickets: $25-$77 at 204-942-6537 or www.royalmtc.ca
1/2 out of five real-life Victorian VIPs, who were friends with Conan Doyle, enlist the fictional crime-solver to help save Langtry from being blackmailed over stolen letters from the Prince of Wales, for whom she served as semi-official mistress. The plot thickens, but it hardly matters, as the audience is transported from Baker Street and back by local designer Brian Perchaluk’s impressive revolving set, which allows director James MacDonald ( A Few Good Men) to maintain an uninterrupted pace in a talk-heavy production. Holmes will rescue the damsel in distress with his lightning contortions of logic and deductive reasoning. He sees connections between clues but he doesn’t typically make connections with other people, other than his No. 1 fan Watson. Forgette strikes a romantic spark as Langtry begins to unlock Holmes’ heart, which comes as a complete shock to him. Moriarty is set up as Holmes’ eternal rival, but in The Jersey Lily, Wilde proves the more challenging competitor in their verbal duels. Miller mines all of the sparkling wit of the Irish playwright, who is working on a comedy tentatively called The Importance of Being Forthright. Outrageously outfitted in mauve and lilac jacket, knickers and cape, the long-haired Winnipeg actor nicely strikes the languid posing of the famous hedonist. Forgette offers two strong female roles. As the scandalous, glamorous Langtry, Bajer gets roughed up — chloroformed, robbed and kidnapped — but never loses the aura of being a woman not to be underestimated. Sarah Constible brings strength and substance to her role of Mrs. Tory, who is never what she seems to be. Nattrass fills Watson with warmth, humanity and an addiction to love. Gil Garratt’s Moriarty has the evil moustache and required menace, though the latter never gets satisfactorily unleashed. Aidan DeSalaiz is totally convincing in a pair of supporting parts. Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily remembers a time when detective stories were not about blood and bodies, but brains and bon mots.