BY MARY HOULIHAN | FOR THE SUN-TIMES
Raven Theatre’s “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Goose” returns for it’s fourth year and once again proves to be a sturdy holiday tradition. Artistic director Michael Menendian and John Weagly adapted the piece from “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s only short story set during the Christmas season.
The adaptors have turned the mystery into a fun family entertainment (for ages 10 and up). In the spirit of old-time radio foley artists, several cast members provide added texture by creating ambient sounds (popped bubble wrap = crackling fire) throughout the show. This brings another welcomed layer to the production, which also features holiday songs and spirited choreography.
‘SHERLOCK HOLMES AND TEH CASE OF THE CHRISTMAS GOOSE’
When: To Jan. 4
Where: Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark
Tickets: $15, $20
Info: (773) 338-2177; raventheatre.com
Running time: 60 minutes
But the centerpiece of the play will always be Sherlock Holmes, his pal Dr. Watson, and a classic mystery. Watson (Damian Conrad) stops in at Baker Street to find Holmes (Graham Emmons) sitting in his chair staring at an old felt hat. It seems the hat and an oven-ready Christmas goose had been dropped by a man in a scuffle with some ruffians and found by Peterson (Lane Flores), a hotel attendant who brought the items to Holmes. Peterson, who then took the goose home for family dinner, quickly returns with a large, glittering blue diamond (the carbuncle of the title) that his wife found in the goose’s neck.
Of course, Holmes cannot resist an intriguing mystery. “Watson, the game’s afoot!,” he exclaims, as they set out to uncover who stole the diamond from the Countess of Morcar. By using his uncanny, precise observational skills, Holmes offers a sketch of the hat’s owner: “Intelligent, fallen on hard times, lost his wife’s affection.” But when that trail turns cold, Holmes and Watson begin a trek to uncover, shall we say, the goose’s backstory. This trail takes them to a farm, a London market, a pub and the Hotel Metropole before the culprit is apprehended.
Under Menendian’s direction (music direction and choreography are by Chris Logan), the ensemble of actors, which also includes Matt Bartholomew, Conor Clark, Leah Frires, Rudy Galvan, Sarah Hayes, Sophia Menendian and Symphony Sanders, makes this a lively production as they morph from one character to the next. In the lead roles, Emmons easily captures the infamous detective’s quirks, and Conrad’s befuddled Watson, who serves as narrator, is the perfect observer and sidekick.
Sprinkled throughout the action are songs true to the English setting, including “Carol of the Bells,” “Gloucestershire Wassail” and “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” It’s not difficult to deduce that “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Goose” is wrapped up in holiday intrigue of the enjoyable kind.
Mary Houlihan is a local freelance writer.