This two-man comedic play, written by Stuart Fortey, sees Sherlock Holmes ending his illustrious career with a farewell tour – sharing recollections of cases won and lost with his fans. However, there are two problems: the set is being held captive by disgruntled stage crew, and Mrs Hudson and Inspector Lestrade, taking exception with Holmes’s attitude, have returned to London. This leaves Holmes, and the ever-faithful Watson, to present to you the intriguing tale of ‘The Prime Minister, the Floozy and the Lammock Rock Lighthouse’.
To address the first issue, Holmes instructs Watson to create a set using left-over props from other shows. The results are humorously mixed; it’s an ingenious way to dress the set without having to break the action.
Watson and Holmes then squabble over who should perform the roles vacated by Hudson and Lestrade, with the inevitable conclusion that it’s going to be Watson. Thus, with a fake moustache and a feathered hat, he alternately becomes the Prime Minister and Miss Anderson, the eponymous Floozy. He also ends up sharing the role of Miss Anderson’s lighthouse-keeping uncle with a teddy bear. His performances are wonderfully outrageous and drew regular laughter from the audience.
While presenting their tale, Holmes and Watson bicker like an old married couple, each of them making passive-aggressive jabs at one another. The bromance fostered between the characters is the major selling point of this production; there is a real chemistry to the performances, and the ease with which the relationship is displayed is a joy to watch. There are plenty of references to past cases and people, including Irene Adler, and of course, Moriarty. This play is firmly rooted within the Holmes and Watson lore.
However, The Farewell Tour suffers from the same difficulty as many theatrical mysteries. Whereas a book can hide clues in seemingly incidental text, in a play, every necessary detail needs to be highlighted and pointed out – making it difficult to prolong the mystery. As such, the central puzzles here are not difficult to crack.
But overall, this is an entertaining show; the performances are wonderful, and the relationship between Holmes and Watson really shines. The mystery is a suitable blend of the serious and the ludicrous, and it would not have been entirely out of place in one of Doyle’s short stories.