Sherlock Holmes The Panto by Jenny Gilbert

Date 25th January 2020
Society Woodchurch Players
Venue Woodchurch Memorial Hall
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Daisy Fermor
Producer Les Fenton


Author: Anne Lawson

Away from the traditional titles this was a refreshing Lazy Bee pantomime satirizing Sherlock’s creator Conan Doyle.  A great storyline emerging from a Victorian Baker Street, London scene when umpires are being murdered at famous sporting events. Is this another dastardly arch enemy Moriarty plot? Strange moustaches, magicians, stabbings, disappearing royalty, the baffled Inspector Semaphore and his Peelers of Duck Green, headed by Sergeant Dull, Val Smith with her comedic asides, accept assistance from Holmes and Dr Watson to solve the crimes! Contributing to the deduction - the Baker Street Irregulars headed by Charlie who falls for Princess Freda (Queen Victoria’s daughter) and young Herbert who takes a fancy to Strawberry seller Sally, nicely played by Kaylyn Van Wyk. Audience chatter was Dame, Mrs. Hudson – Sherlock’s faithful housekeeper, popping up at theatrical performances as a magician’s assistant in a disappearing act, serving refreshments, flinging meringues at cricket commentators, and as a very bouncy ball girl! Animal interest came as a lovable hound namely Baskerville! Other interesting characters included ‘I’m not amused’ Her Royal Highness Queen Victoria played by Sheila Ross and her trusty kilted John Brown sometimes Jock the Rapper, a cheeky Adrian Williams.

The hall was atmospheric, foggy with a dimly lit stage, backdrop showing an elegant central front door to 221b Baker Street. A good team effort from the Backstage crew, SM Neil Vincer. – other scenes transported us to the Theatre for an evening with Marvo the Magician, with Chinese decoration and magic box, Commentary Box at Lord’s, Bowls Club for a Charleston, tennis match at Wimbledon and of course a Boat Race showing a colourful boathouse interior opening onto the river. 

Committee members worked hard on publicity and ticketing using an eye-catching silhouetted poster. Tim Nolan, again multi-tasking, headed Lighting with Dylan Bryan on Follow Spots and Eliot Gannon and Alex Gray on the Sound side. 

The period costume side by the three stalwart wardrobe ladies was most commendable. Holmes in a three-piece tweed suit – overcoat, collar up with of course deerstalker hat, curly pipe and sometime violin just perfect and Dr Watson in his smart striped greys and black jacket, adding a walking cane for sometimes left then right limp! Queen Vic was a triumph, with her young princess elegant, simplicity of Moriarty as Marvo elegant, just the hint of mystique with the coloured mask and again the overcoat for Duffy – but the red flapper frock with peacock headband and ballet shoes something else. A good set of officer costumes too. In Flapper frocks the Charlston dance routine was well executed by Charlotte Stevens and Ella Parmee. Excellent sportswear and equipment.  Cockney finishing touches with the flat caps worked well as the array of hats for the chorus number. Tweed knickerbockers for Insp Semaphore effective and a wonderful elongated nose when he doubled as Theatre Doorman. Dame appeared mainly in pink, complete with stylish grey bun Mrs Hudson wig, not too voluptuous and trendy period sporting look, good expressive makeup.

Taped music was well cued, sometimes a little loud masking the lyrics, with of course the Policemen’s perfect chorus number G & S ‘A Policeman’s Lot is Not an ‘Appy One’. Daisy did another great job directing plus performing her Watson role, first class performances came from Mark Perrian as Sherlock himself. Mrs Hudson, a game agile Ben Vincer kept the audience reactions going. We loved booing, if a little restrained at times, at Brian Parmee, the nasty and his stooge Duffy played by James Harper. Good stage positioning using all available space which included the central aisle and I did so like the ‘freeze’ moments with the dramatic musical notes for added drama. The cricket commentary team ‘Willers’ – Hattie Perrian, ‘Smethers’ - Max Williams including his rain dance and ‘Jitters’ – Ella Parmee must be congratulated for their portrayals not forgetting other cameo roles and ensemble.