Sherlock Holmes inspires play and exhibit

The author of this article, Jay Rosen, uses the library's display to pose as Sherlock Holmes.

This December, Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System and Dobama Theatre have joined forces to honor Sherlock Holmes, the legendary detective first penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887.

Through Dec. 30, Dobama will host the regional premiere of “Sherlock Holmes: The Baker Street Irregulars,” a show that focuses on “a gang of street kids” employed by Holmes to scout out missions and help solve cases. When Holmes mysteriously disappears and a young girl’s grandmother is abducted, the Irregulars work to track down the detective and settle an urgent mystery from their past. 

“We’re thrilled for the debut of this show,” said Nathan Motta, director of “The Baker Street Irregulars” and artistic director at Dobama. “It has classic elements from older Sherlock Holmes tales, but will still appeal to folks who are less familiar with the series. It also uses lights, projections and motorized elements in a unique and exciting way.” 

Although the play deals with serious social issues—family conflict and class struggle are central to the narrative—folks of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to attend the performance. “We try and produce a show like this around the holidays, so families can do something together at the theater,” said Motta.  

The play is based on two graphic novels by Tony Lee and Dan Boultwood, and adapted by acclaimed Cleveland Heights playwright Eric Coble, whose award-winning plays have been produced across the country, including on Broadway.

“It’s a real treat to be working with Eric, particularly on a show that features so many young and bright actors who are newer to the craft. Everyone’s brought a level of focus and commitment that’s truly impressive,” commented Motta.

While “The Baker Street Irregulars” runs at Dobama, Heights Libraries will offer a Sherlock Holmes-themed interactive display in the Lee Road branch’s art gallery.

Included in the display is a life-sized vignette of a Victorian parlor featuring cutouts of Holmes and his sidekick, Dr. Watson, and notable quotes from past Holmes stories and films. In an effort to make the cutouts as authentic as possible, Heights Libraries staff visited Great Lakes Theater’s costume shop and photographed Victorian-style clothes.

Library and theater customers are encouraged to pose for selfies in the cutouts, and “become Sherlock and Watson for a few minutes,” said Victor Cimperman, a graphic designer at Heights Libraries who created the pieces in the exhibit.

The gallery display also features an interactive touch screen highlighting different portrayals over the years of Holmes and Watson, on television and in film.

“We’re hoping this display will encourage our customers to interact with Sherlock Holmes,” said Cimperman, “whether they grew up watching Basil Rathbone in the 1940s or are just now getting into the series.”

To purchase tickets for the play, go to http://www.dobama.org/sherlock/ or call 216-932-3396. To experience Heights Libraries’ Sherlock Holmes display, visit the Lee Road branch’s art gallery whenever the library is open. 

Jay Rosen

Jay Rosen is communications coordinator at Heights Libraries.

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Volume 10, Issue 12, Posted 11:34 AM, 12.01.2017