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The games afoot at the Little Theatre

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By Ann Mauzy

Sherlock Holmes first appeared in print in 1887. The character’s tremendous popularity led to the publication of four novels and 56 short stories. In December 1893, Arthur Conan Doyle and William Gillette wrote “The Final Problem,” the story in which they killed off the world’s most famous detective, in a fight to the death with his archnemesis, the evil genius Dr. Moriarty. Holmes devotees around the world protested, wore black armbands and begged the author to resurrect their hero. Doyle finally revived Holmes in 1903.

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Such is the popularity of the Sherlock Holmes legend that it has spawned movies and TV productions, seen recently on the PBS Sunday night series, “Masterpiece Theater.” In 2006, Steven Dietz adapted “The Final Problem,” adding components of “A Scandal in Bohemia” to create the 2007 Edgar Allen Poe Award-winning play, “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure,” which will be the Los Alamos Little Theatre’s November presentation.

Director Louisa Gilani chose the play because of her admiration for the character of Sherlock Holmes. She said, “Holmes gave hope to the people of the 18th century, that if they used deductive reasoning, they could solve any problem.”

Scot Johnson plays the famous detective and Stuart Schaller plays his loyal companion and faithful biographer, Dr. Watson. Watson informs the audience that Holmes is dead and that it all started when the King of Prussia asked the detective to help him recover a photo that was being used to blackmail him. The photo shows him with the American opera diva Irene Adler. Russell Hopper plays the king and Kathleen Kelly plays Adler.

Author Dietz weaves romance into his play with a touching but fumbling attempt by Holmes to romance the only woman who ever bested him, Adler. Holmes approached romance with the same logical rigor he applied to his criminology, only to discover that he was unable to deduce his way into a woman’s heart.

Gilani said, “Great intelligence is not always matched by social grace.”

But the focus of the play is the titanic battle of wits between Sherlock Holmes and his archenemy Moriarty, culminating in their final, fatal confrontation. Warren Houghteling plays the twisted genius. Larry Gibbons, Jake Turin and Claire Singleton play Moriarty’s evil henchmen: Larabee (Norton), Sid Prince  and Madge, respectively. In addition to being treacherous minions of Moriarty, these characters provide a “Keystone Cops” style of incompetence and add humor to the show. William Kressin plays the postboy and other minor characters.

One of the highlights of this LALT production is the set, which serves to intensify the intrigue, suspense and excitement of the play. The single set portrays Holmes’ study at 221-B Baker St. a Swiss Chalet and locations for other brief scenes including the gas works, a train, a street and the famous Reichenbach Falls, where Holmes and Moriarty battle to their deaths.

Los Alamos Little Theatre presents “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure,” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday as well as Nov. 13, 14, 20 and 21. There will be a matinee at 2 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Performing Arts Center, 1670 Nectar St. Tickets cost $12 for general admission, $10 for students and seniors and are available at CB Fox or at the door. For reservations call 662-5493.