REVIEWED: ‘A Strange Case for Sherlock Holmes’ – ADLIB Theatre Company

I was extremely lucky to be able to secure a ticket (thanks to a friend) for the sold-out murder mystery at Northwood House on Saturday evening. Guests were invited to the 1921 engagement party of Lady Dorothy Harrington-Smythe to her beau Cecil Morrison, and on arrival we were greeted by Lady Dorothy herself along with a few of the family, including dour Lady Daphne, and then invited to partake of a glass of bubbly as we entered the beautiful ballroom of the House for the meal. The family servants Ethel, Hinge and Brackett were in attendance, as was guest of honour Sherlock Holmes, taking a rare weekend off from sleuthing – or so he thought…

The roomful of perfectly attired guests – just about everyone had taken up the invitation to dress in keeping with the 1920’s setting – were then welcomed by our hosts Sir Charles and Lady Ruby Harrington-Smythe, when proceedings were thrown into disarray by the appearance of a blood-soaked Cecil announcing that he had found a body, which proved to be that of the family cook, Gertrude. 

From that point, led by Detective Simon Dabell, the intrepid teams of investigators (and Sherlock!) set our collective brains to work to figure out just who had committed the deadly deed. Suspects were questioned, evidence examined and the crime scene observed. First one, then another of the family and retainers came under suspicion: just how had Cecil got so much blood on his hands? Why was Lady Dorothy so dismissive of her suitor’s charms? Did the mystic Ariadne really learn the truth from the spirit world? What was housekeeper Hinge’s well-kept secret? And could Sherlock Holmes crack the case? Just as we thought we’d got to grips with what had happened, another murder threw more questions at us!

I thoroughly enjoyed the entertaining performances of the suspects, played by talented actors very familiar on Island amateur stages, each one of whom fully embodied his or her character and dealt with every question skilfully, dramatically, and often humorously. Alongside the fun of trying to put together the carefully-placed clues, we were treated to an excellent two-course meal and professional table service.

I will not reveal ‘whodunnit’, but would certainly recommend booking any future murder mystery production by ADLIB very quickly – everyone who attended this one is very keen to go along to another, so even without Ariadne’s psychic skills I foresee tickets selling very quickly.

The evening was created as a fund-raiser for Northwood House, which like most venues is still recovering from its enforced closure for over a year. The venue operates a successful Lawn Bar at weekends until the end of September and host weddings, and other corporate & community bookings. They hope to offer a winter ‘House lounge cocktail bar’ in December, and are looking at re-starting a number of large events in 2022. The House & parkland is owned by a Charitable Trust in order to provide a community asset for Island residents and to conserve the property for its history and heritage. Find out more at their website: https://northwoodhouse.org

ADLIB has staged a range of amateur productions through the years and is always interested in working with local directors with amateur casts; the company is hoping to hold another theatre supper early in 2022 at Northwood House. Keep up to date with their news at https://www.adlibtheatre.co.uk

Meanwhile, if your appetite for a good murder mystery event has been whetted by the above, Caught Red-Handed Productions have three murder mystery evenings booked with Albert Cottage Hotel on the 30th October, & 3rd & 4th December. Tickets available soon, and further information can be found at https://www.caughtredhanded.info/upcoming-events

All events of course are subject to Covid regulations.

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