Spontaneous Sherlock

Sat 5th – Sun 27th August 2017

reviews

Eleanor Lawson

at 12:33 on 11th Aug 2017

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While Sherlock and Watson bonding over trampoline swimming or trapeze acting may be deemed a concept only suitable for the realms of fanfiction, these were only some of the bizarre events acted out by the impeccably talented cast of ‘Spontaneous Sherlock’. The biggest free improv comedy show of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in both 2015 and 2016, you’ll be hard pressed to find a show as infectiously funny.

Utilising the cult following of Sherlock, the show packs in an enthusiastic audience, key for a show which springboards off a title decided by the audience. On this particular occasion, ‘Creepy Tinder Date’. The cast then improvises the rest of the show around the title, very inventively on this occasion considering the characters are very much a Victorian Holmes and Watson. Alongside the impressive feat of improvising an entire show, the cast continue to flesh out the beloved characters that have brought floods of audience members in with nuances that make their characters instantly recognizable, from Sherlock’s pedantic correcting of grammar to Mrs Hudson’s gloriously fiery streak. This is not a show that has simply slapped Sherlock over the title, but is clearly as invested in the characters and their heritage as much as the audience who have flocked to see it.

The cast are exceptional, to the point where it was impossible to determine from the performance alone that Steve Worsley, who played Mrs Hudson and a variety of suspicious suspects on the case, was a guest performer from the Edinburgh-based troupe ‘Men With Coconuts’. Eric Geistfeld also performs wonderfully as young suspect Beatrice, effortlessly morphing his physicality from character to character. Will Naameh and Paul Connolly have a wonderful chemistry as Sherlock and Watson, but it is Naameh in particular who propels the show forwards. Not only embodying the charisma of Holmes, he picks out the absurdity of his fellow cast member’s suggestions, making sure the ridiculous humour is not lost out on his audience. This is a clearly experienced and impressive cast, not afraid to throw themselves into the deep end and struggle their way through impossible plot points to make their audience laugh. The shrieks and bellows from those watching show that this is a success.

This is a flawlessly executed piece of improv comedy, with an exceptionally talented cast of actors. If you’re in Edinburgh and want a night of pure, unadulterated hilarity, go and watch ‘Spontaneous Sherlock’. For a free show, you’ve really got no excuse not to.

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Zoe Boothby

at 13:04 on 11th Aug 2017

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In ‘Spontaneous Sherlock’, an improv show returning after its huge success at last year’s Fringe, we are given the whodunit we always wanted, but perhaps do not deserve (it really is that good). Upon entering the venue, each audience member places their suggestion for a classic Holmes caper into a hat prior to the start of the show: on the night that I was present, we were treated to ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Creepy Tinder Date’. Hounds of the what? The 2017 iteration is more up my street, to be honest. The cast then entirely improvises the plot of their chosen mystery, with hilarious results.

As always, with this territory comes a disclaimer: this being improv, I cannot offer any definitive reassurance that the show would be of the same high quality every night. However, the talent of the cast was such that I feel confident suggesting that any night would provide similar hilarity, and the structure the performers adhere to seemed to be pretty solid, and I gather that it would provide a great hour of entertainment any night. Although I would love for everyone to bear witness to the same show I did, I am sure that they provide just as many, if not more, laughs every night.

Will Naameh stars as the eponymous Sherlock, and owns the role: he would regularly call out his co-stars’ ridiculous improvised suggestions and commit to them in a fashion that was nothing short of admirable. He would always, however, find some way out of whatever bother he conceived, and his innovative solutions to the problems he created were always impressive. Although Nameeh corpsed numerous times during the show, it only served to contribute to the humour. Paul Connolly co-starred as Watson, offering many witty injections and successfully completing the Holmes/Watson dynamic by providing a far calmer presence than his counterpart. In Spontaneous Sherlock, the double-edged sword of improv was more keenly felt than usual. Steve Worsley was a guest performer on the night I attended which seems a shame, as his very Scottish Mrs Hudson was a delight to behold: how I wish others could bear witness to his camp performance. Eric Geistfeld’s fifteen archers were marvelous, and I lament that the audience would not be treated to their incarnation every night.

The show undoubtedly benefits from a fantastic venue: the Liquid Room Annexe has a laidback atmosphere, which very much compliments the humour of the show. It speaks volumes that, as Spontaneous Sherlock is part of the Free Fringe, the buckets at the exits were filled with people’s donations. This is a show which undoubtedly deserves everyone’s attention, as the talent on stage is not to be missed.

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