Satya Baskaran, who plays Dr. John Watson, with Satyen Chandiramani, who plays one of the 'Sherlock Holmes' contenders. Image Credit: Supplied

Who can detect the detective? In Jeffrey Hatcher’s ‘Holmes and Watson’, an adaptation of which runs at the Junction in AlSerkal Avenue this weekend, this question gets a real-time answer.

The play, first published in 2018 and now being staged in partnership with The Abu Dhabi Festival, begins three years after the great tumble of Sherlock Holmes and his arch nemesis Professor Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls. Since a body was never recovered, a number of fakes have been trying to assume the identity of the sleuth. Dr Watson must now both protect the reputation of an old friend and find, if in fact he hasn’t died, the real Holmes.

The story takes him to a remote asylum off the coast of Scotland where three inmates are professing to be the real deal. But are they?

Mario Silva, who plays Sherlock Holmes, says the rendition will have you on the edge of your seat. “I love how thrilling the plot is. You can’t stop turning the page and, in this case, you will be on the edge of your seat waiting to be amazed by all the mystery. The character I play gives me so much room to play with and entice the audience; everything we do on stage - the audience needs to look out for if they want to solve the mystery.”

For Amit Vikram Ghosh, who plays Dr. Evans, it’s the resuscitation of more than just Sherlock; it’s a visit down a fan-created memory lane. “For me, the best part about this play is that a complete story has been woven around iconic characters from our childhood. What makes it so real and thrilling, are all the references to events or characters in Sherlock Holmes’ life, like his arch nemesis Professor Moriarty, or for that matter, his landlady Mrs. Hudson. It’s almost like a resurrection, where our beloved Holmes comes back to life after Reichenbach,” he says.

The Abu Dhabi Festival, says director Gautam Goenka, was “instrumental in ensuring this production was brought to life. They wanted to further expand the boundaries of creativity and innovation through the arts and asked us if we would like to be part of this historic festival. We pitched the idea of Sherlock Holmes as an iconic fictional character who resonated globally with audience members and our collaboration took off.”

One USP of the show is a cast that reflects the diversity of the UAE. “Our cast of 12 has seven nationalities - very representative of the beautiful diversity of Dubai. The energy is palpable, and the talent is a treat to watch,” says head of production Aradhita Basu.

But as the number of people grow in such a production so too does the risk of contagion. We are, after all, in the middle of a pandemic. Goenka speaks of tight-knit circles and selective gatherings that aided the process. “The big challenge was ensuring our team was fully vaccinated and kept in a bubble during the rehearsal process,” he explains. “Also, given the size of the cast and crew we had to ensure only essential members and right sized teams worked together in accordance with the regulations. I think flexibility was the key element at play here,” he adds.

However, the story itself held enough promise for the troupe to perform it. “It is a story about Sherlock Holmes. I think that in itself was a huge draw for me. It was also an amazing chapter in the Sherlock Holmes saga. Additionally, the script was quick paced and kept me at the edge of my seat as I read it,” says Goenka.

The question now remains – can you spot the great detective before Dr Watson can? The game is afoot.

Don't miss it!

Tickets to see ‘Holmes and Watson’, which runs at The Junction from April 7-10, start at Dh85.