Sherlock Bungalow and the Diabolical Treasure

Thu 23rd – Sat 25th November 2017

reviews

Clare Cavenagh

at 14:28 on 25th Nov 2017

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Sherlock Bungalow and the Diabolical Treasure is an extremely weird show. A parody/homage to Sherlock Holmes, it charts Holmes and Watson's quest to solve the treacherous murder of Elizabeth II. The murder seems to be inextricably linked to the old guard of the BBC, as Stephen Fry, Jeremy Paxman, Sir David Attenborough and Mary Berry all appear in the investigation. As it meanders its way through the story, this show is shaped by profoundly odd logic, and time after time groan-worthy puns are made flesh before us, doing things like turning police chiefs into moles. This show is extremely weird, and you might hate it, but you might just love it too.

In a sparse set where different locations are lightly evoked by a couple of props and some bits of furniture, Holmes and Watson set off on their madcap adventure. Ben Martineau (Bungalow) and Oliver Haworth (Watson) do a good job with both of their roles, managing to sell frankly ridiculous moments to the audience, and to carry on some of the questionable chemistry which fans of the original detective pair know and love (or hate).

The play does lots of self-referential wall-breaking, with some kind-hearted abuse of the audience, some light roasting of the sound design and a fair bit of author-bashing. Lots of this is great fun, and a very eager and receptive audience on opening night meant that it worked very well - people were willing to play along.

One of the most delightful and simultaneously infuriating aspects of this show is its inconsistency. Although the cast are good and the script is funny, neither of them achieve these things all the time. While some moments are hugely funny, others just fall flat, and one never quite knows if the whole piece is going to recover. In another performance, this would be a big problem, but Sherlock Bungalow and the Diabolical Treasure got away with it for two reasons: the first was that above-mentioned audience, who, although small were very supportive, willing to be swept up in the shows best moments, and willing to forgive its worst. The other reason might be the play's main achievement - it has an infectious sense of fun. You can practically hear Christof Epaminondas giggling while he writes, and the fun which has obviously been had by cast and crew is evident throughout the performance. I've given the show two stars, but there was something brilliant about it, even when it was occasionally terrible.

Sherlock Bungalow and the Diabolical Treasure is bizarre - it doesn't obey any normal form of narrative logic, it's incredibly inconsistent, and some of its jokes are terrible. But I, and the other audience members, had a pretty great time. Expect the unexpected, but there are worse things to do with your Saturday evening than go and see this play.

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