The story begins three years after Sherlock Holmes died in his fall off Reichenback Falls while battling with the evil Professor Moriarty. A wire arrives for Dr. John Watson saying that three patients in his asylum are claiming to be Sherlock Holmes.
This year's offering in the Alley Theatre's Summer Chills program — Holmes and Watson — is written by the same Jeffrey Hatcher who wrote Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Suicide Club and the 2015 movie Mr. Holmes.
Noble Shropshire (Broadway’s The Drowsy Chaperone, Royal National Theatre’s Not About Nightingales) plays the Moriarty role and although he's done Sherlock Holmes plays before — including playing the famed detective — he's never had a chance to play the arch villain in one, he says.
"This story for Conan Doyle is the first appearance that Moriarty actually makes in any of the stories and his final appearance. Villains are always fun. They always have great lines," Shropshire said.
Asked why he wanted to be in this production, Shropshire said: "It's a new play by Jeffey Hatcher. This is the world premiere of the version he wrote especially for the Alley. All actors love to be in new plays. We always seek it out because you get to make your Imprimatur into a part. It's a cracking good play and it's entertaining as heck."
Sherlock Holmes continues to fascinate audiences, Shropshire said. "With Sherlock Holmes as with Miss Marple, and Poirot and Dupin all these other great detectives they do things and solve things with their minds and that's why I think people are attracted to it. Edgar Allen Poe wrote the first one with his Auguste Dupin who solved things from his armchair. We always hope these forces are going to be in our lives."
The Holmes and Watson also includes Alley Company members Elizabeth Bunch as Matron/The Woman, Chris Hutchison as Prince of Wales, and Jay Sullivan as Sir Dighton. The cast also includes Jeremy Webb (Alley’s A Few Good Men, Dracula) as Watson, David Matranga (Alley’s All the Way, A Christmas Carol) as Orderly. Visiting artists Dan Domingues (Off-Broadway’s The Enclave, Mother of Invention) plays Signor Fonseca, and Rajeev Varma (Netflix’s Brown Nation, Roundabout Theatre Company’s Indian Ink) is Dr. Evans.
The one-act play set in 1894 goes very quickly, or as Shropshire put it: "Lickety-split."
"It's a family show and how many of those do you get anymore?" he said "It's just a great entertainment. As much as anything the play is about friendship, what devoted people sacrifice for each other and that's a great sort of thing to come away with after a play.
Performances are scheduled for June 22 through July 22 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sundays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at the Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information, call 713-220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $26- $89.