Robert Louis Stevenson and Arthur Conan Doyle never met — although they attended the same university a year apart and were fans of each other's stories — but thanks to playwright Jeffrey Hatcher, their work is joined in Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club. Co-director Mark Shanahan says the play opens with an unhappy Holmes, not sure what his place is anymore. It's not the usual 1880s setting, but after the turn of the 20th century with electric lights, movies and telephones. Someone, something, may be setting up the deaths of very prominent men, and in usual Holmes style, the fate of the Empire may be at stake.
Shanahan says Stevenson (Treasure Island, The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) wrote his short story trilogy ''The Suicide Club'' ten years before Doyle debuted ''A Study in Scarlet,'' but the two are a good match. Both feature adventurous leaders with sidekicks who have military backgrounds.
Alley Company actor Todd Waite is back as Sherlock Holmes. ''The great thing about Todd is having played the character, he really has an affinity for him,'' says Shanahan. ''He's very protective to make sure the character is not made fun of, is not a superhero, is not a pompous fool; he fleshes out a person who is troubled by his genius — and it's difficult to be Sherlock Holmes — and he struggles with it.'' Shanahan points to the strength of the Holmes character in that while so many different versions of him have been done and he’s been moved in time so often, the essential nature of the man, his intellect and his abiding strong friendship with Dr. John Watson still come through. ''The character can survive all of that,'' he says.
7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. Through June 23. 615 Texas. For information, call 713‑220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $26 to $70.
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: May 24. Continues through June 23, 2013