Adelaide Fringe

Fringe Review: Watson: The Final Problem

We have heard Holmes’ side of things, now let’s hear Watson’s as portrayed by the wonderful Tim Marriott

We have heard Holmes’ side of things, now let’s hear Watson’s as portrayed by the wonderful Tim Marriott

Presented by: Belinda Redman
Reviewed: 21 February, 2024

Adelaide seems to be going through a phase of ACD (Arthur Conan Doyle-itis) at the moment and it is most welcome. At the end of next month, the Adelaide Rep are presenting Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville, one of many stage representations of Conan Doyle’s classic The Hound Of The Baskervilles. Meanwhile, here at the Fringe we are being treated to not one but two slightly different interpretations of Conan Doyle’s classic detective Sherlock Holmes and his chronicler Dr John Watson. Both shows are one-person shows and both are simply wonderful; Sherlock Holmes: The Last Act and Watson: The Final Problem.

Watson: The Final Problem stars Britain’s Tim Marriott (he of British sit-com The Brittas Empire fame) as Watson. Whilst this production is written by Marriott himself, and Bert Coules, it does of course bear similarities with the other Fringe production – how could it not – but there are marked differences. This play is set in 1894, three years after Holmes’ perceived death in the icy, thundering waters of the Reichenbach Falls and in flash back deals mainly with Sherlocks adventures, the death of Watson’s wife, and the pursuit of Holmes’ nemesis, Moriarty and his almost unhealthy obsession with the ‘Napolean of Crime’ (there are some theorists out in the literary world who think that Moriarty may have been a figment of Holmes’ drugged up mind).

Marriott gives us a down-to-earth Watson who basically states the facts, whereas his Holmes is dramatic and flamboyant with a slightly richer timbre in his voice than that used for Watson. One of the highlights for this reviewer was Marriott’s interpretation of Moriarty. Conan Doyle described him as reptilian in features and by somehow making his lips seem to disappear, showing all his teeth and giving a hissing, slithery quality to his speech, that is exactly what Marriott gives the audience. 

After witnessing Marriott’s masterful performance, one is in no doubt to the brilliance and excellence of this actor.

The whole experience and ambiance of this production is only enhanced by staging it in Adelaide’s original and beautiful Victorian Era Ayers House (shame about the huge black and yellow monolithic monstrosity placed out the front for Fringe though). Being performed in the ballroom also adds to the feel and atmosphere seeing Marriott perform in front of period gold brocade curtains with an authentic chandelier hanging above him.

One for true Sherlock devotees – who will see the cliffhanger ending coming a mile off; and one for fans of truly wonderful theatre.

Reviewed by Brian Godfrey

Venue: The Ballroom at Ayers House
Season: Fri 23 Feb, Sat 2 March, Wed 6 March and Wed 13 March 2024
Duration: 60 mins
Tickets: $15 – $29.95

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