Sherlock Holmes and The Sign of Four
written and directed by Eric J. McAnallen
adapted from the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
May 2014 - Comtra Theatre
This was a labor of love. That's not to say that I love Sherlock but that I love theatre and this afforded me the opportunity to be knee deep in every aspect of the creative process. I was involved in nearly every part of this production, from writing, casting, directing and producing to set, lighting, sound, and costume design and creation. The only thing I didn't do was get on the stage and act and, as a director, I refuse to cast myself.
I wrote this adaptation at the request of Comtra's Artistic Director. We were discussing shows for me to direct in the spring of 2014 and he suggested that Sherlock Holmes was very popular at the moment and maybe we could do a Sherlock play and he suggested, off-handedly, that since Sherlock was public domain, I could write my own. Well, I'm not one to back away from an opportunity like that. And thus Sherlock Holmes and the Sign of Four by Eric J. McAnallen was born.
This is the story of how Holmes and Watson meet and come to live together at Baker Street and is taken from the first two Sherlock books (A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four). I went to great lengths to make sure I created the characters as Doyle envisioned them without borrowing from TV or film interpretations. For instance, there is no Calabash Pipe, no Deerhunter Cap and my Dr. Watson is a capable assistant to the famous detective. We also played Holmes as more manic/depressive, a stoic sort with a constant current of emotion bottled up just below the surface that can't help but burst forth when he's frustrated.
We kept the whole thing Victorian and my wife, Misa, made most of the costumes. There were a lot of set pieces since the story wanders from place to place as Holmes investigates. This was made even more challenging considering The Comtra is in the round and has no curtain or fly space and you can't just play scenes in front of a scrim. All in all, my stage crew did a wonderful job with the scene changes. I find slow scene changes to be a killer of pacing.
Sadly, I no longer have a working relationship with the Comtra Theatre so I will not be doing a sequel there. That does not mean that I won't write one.
- Sherlock Holmes - Michael Brewer
- John Watson - Hunter Mehrens
- Mary Morstan - Jenny Mehrens
- Stamford/Bartholomew Sholto/Williams/Captain Pollock - Jim Watson
- Inspector Abernathy Jones - Kevin McGuire
- Thaddeus Sholto/Mordecai Smith - Bruce E. Travers
- Wiggins/Tonga - Sam Bassett
- Mrs. Hudson/Mrs. Smith - Rachael Rysz
- Mrs. Bernstone/Mrs. Forrester - Cathy Gialloreto
- McMurdo/Constable Murcher - David Wargo
- Jonathan Small - Carl Gross
- Jack Smith/Stephenson - Emilia Garcia
- Stage Manager - Kaleigh Ruiz
- Lights/Sound - Mike Guantonio
- Crew - Shane Ruiz
- Crew - Susana Garcia
- Crew/Costumer - Misa McAnallen
- Crew (substitute) - Amanda Watson
- Crew (substitute) - Enrique Garcia