Miss Holmes

by Kelly May

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday April 9, 2018

Shelley Bolman, Marge Dunn and Brittany Rolfs in "Miss Holmes" at the Greater Boston Stage Company through April 22.
Shelley Bolman, Marge Dunn and Brittany Rolfs in "Miss Holmes" at the Greater Boston Stage Company through April 22.  

A grand murder mystery has come to the Greater Boston Stage Company in "Miss Holmes," which continues at the company's Stoneham home until April 22. In "Christopher M. Walsh's rethinking of the classic characters of Arthur Conan Doyle, a female Holmes and Watson navigate London while solving a murder mystery and negotiating the gender dynamics of 19th century London. In this delightful production, there's a mystery worthy for Holmes and Watson to solve.

Marge Dunn (Sherlock Holmes) and Brittany Rolfs (Dr. Watson) inhabited these famous characters with excellent acting and strong chemistry. From the first scenes, the script and the actors created a world where Holmes' quirky sleuthing and Dr. Watson's groundbreaking work as a female in the medical profession were believable. The fact that the characters were female made the story even more dramatic.

In all stories, Holmes' peculiar personality skirts what is considered the norm in society. For women in 19th century London, the definition of female acceptability was narrower, and Holmes' odd characteristics make his potential incarceration in an insane asylum that looms in the background all too real. This added tension plays well in the mystery. I will not reveal details here, since audiences should not be robbed of the fun.

The set design by Katy Monthei was deceptively simplistic. Composed of two benches, one chair, and gray fabric panels falling from the ceiling, the set sounds overly minimalistic. But, Monthei projected black and white photos onto the panels to set each scene. From the outside of Scotland Yard to the inside of Holmes' flat, the photos gave the audience enough visual cues to fill in the rest. In a time of movies and television shows, where every emotion, back story, and thought is told in excruciating detail, it was nice to use one's own imagination in a play's world building.

Many of us have limited time to attend theater, and there is no shortage of options in the Boston area. One thing that I love about regional theaters such as the Greater Boston Stage Company is that these are "our" people. They may not only be a Technical Director at the Roxbury Latin School (Marge Dunn who plays Sherlock Holmes), a theatre teacher at Concord Academy (ensemble member Shelley Bolman) or my guide at Cambridge Historical Tours (ensemble member Daniel Berger-Jones), but they are also a part of our community. And, it is nice to enjoy our local actors, especially in such a delightful production. "The game is afoot!" at the Greater Boston Stage Company, and it is a good time to catch up on a new version of some beloved characters.

"Miss Holmes" continues through April 22 at the Greater Boston Stage Company, 395 Main Street, Stoneham, MA. For tickets and more information, visit the theater company's website.