Cranking up Sherlock

Cranking up Sherlock

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'Sherlock's Last Case' opens July 12

The comic mystery Sherlock’s Last Case by Charles Marowitz is the final full production in the 2012 Iowa Summer Rep season “Chills and Thrills.” It will open at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 12, in E.C. Mabie Theatre of the University of Iowa Theatre Building

Other performances of the production, directed by UI theatre graduate fellow Matt Hawkins, will be at 8 p.m. July 13, 14, and 18-21.

Matt Hawkins

Sherlock’s Last Case takes what we know about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson—the characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle—twists it, and cranks it up a notch to the point where it becomes absurdly comedic.

The Holmes of Sherlock’s Last Case is somewhat more of a jerk than Doyle’s Holmes, and his inconsiderate manner and self-centeredness are emphasized to comic effect. And this Holmes has rather more of an eye for women than his literary model.

The play takes place in Holmes’s well-known sitting room. The plot involves a mysterious woman who very nearly out-Holmeses Holmes with lines like, “Do you recall the case of the Vinegar-Stained Hat-Band?,” encounters with the sinister offspring of the treacherous nemesis Professor Moriarty, and several twists and turns that keep audiences both guessing and laughing.


“We all have our own preconceptions of who Sherlock Holmes is, and who Watson is,” Hawkins says. "Sherlock's Last Case takes these beloved characters and exaggerates their quirks, flaws, and less-known aspects of their lives. The play is fun, different, and very strange. Which means people in this town will love it.”

The cast includes Actors Equity members David Q. Combs and William Watt.

Hawkins, a founding member of the House Theatre of Chicago, got into fight directing first at House, has taught clowning, and gave a critically acclaimed performance as Stanley Kowalski in the Writers’ Theatre production of A Streetcar Named Desire.

A critic, director, and columnist as well as a playwright known for deconstructing Shakespeare, Marowitz was the founder of the Open Space Theatre in London, and also collaborated with Peter Brook at the Royal Shakespeare Company. The Broadway production of Sherlock’s Last Case, which ran for 124 performances, starred Frank Langella.

Iowa Summer Rep represents a rich tradition of nearly a century of summer theatre at UI. Beginning with Edward C. Mabie’s arrival on campus in 1920, summer play production became a regular feature at the UI.

Beginning in 1939 and continuing for more than 40 years, summer theatre productions were a part of the UI Fine Arts Festival. From 1920 through 1960, summer productions were mounted successively, one after the other.

Starting in 1961, Summer Repertory Theatre was established and presented four plays simultaneously in an alternating rep style. In 1984, Iowa Summer Rep presented its first single-playwright season, offering a unique focus in American summer theatre.

In 2000 Summer Rep elevated its status by becoming an Actors’ Equity company.

Tickets for Sherlock’s Last Case are $26 ($23 for senior citizens, $13 for youth, and $5 for UI students with a valid UI ID.) Tickets are available in advance from the Hancher box office, 193 University Capitol Centre, 800-HANCHER or 319-335-1160.

Discounted season subscriptions—for either all three Summer Rep shows or Summer Rep plus the opera H.M.S. Pinafore—are available through a downloadable order form. Subscriptions may also be purchased by phone or in person at the box office.

The Department of Theatre Arts is a unit of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The UI Summer Session is a sponsor of Iowa Summer Rep.


Winston Barclay, University Communication and Marketing, 319-430-1013


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