Fringe review: The Sign of Four

The Sign of Four
Directed by John D. Huston and Kenneth Brown; theatrepublic; La Cité Francophone Theatre; until Sun., Aug. 25.
Our Score
The Sign of Four

The team behind 2 Sherlock Holmes Adventures has returned to bring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s second Sherlock Holmes novel, The Sign of Four, to the stage.

This time around, John Huston and Kenneth Brown are joined by Ellie Heath, of Girl Brain, as Holmes and Watson investigate a case brought to them by Mary Morstan. She tells them how her father disappeared 10 years ago, how four years later she started receiving generous gifts from an anonymous benefactor, and how recently she received an anonymous letter asking for a meeting. 

With the game afoot, Huston, Brown, and Heath pass a deerstalker hat back and forth, quickly swapping roles, with whoever has the chapeau playing Holmes. By the end of the play each will have played Holmes, Watson, and Morstan, and each will have also taken on additional roles, including the helpful hound, Toby. Despite how many times the deerstalker changes hands and how many characters there are, there’s never any confusion over who is who—thanks not only to the cast deploying a solid selection of accents, but to the ingenuity with which the play has been put together (Huston and Brown adapted the tale themselves).

The play is accomplished with a minimal set, almost no props—save the hat—and an abundance of humour and talent. Whether you already know the tale or not, theatrepublic’s The Sign of Four is a thrilling, funny delight.

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