Edinburgh Fringe 2011
A wordy and fast-paced two-hander, Max Olesker and Ivan Gonzalez , for their 2011 festival offering, have transplanted the ever-popular Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson to the ever-popular mob underworld of 1920s Chicago, in such a way that will guarantee a very-popular show.
Watson is kidnapped, and Holmes – his mind a mess, his edge blunted – must pull himself together to save him from the mob, at the same time preventing disaster. Holmes, somewhat waylaid by love, eventually comes through with the goods, foiling evil plots left right and centre, with a strong accompanying measure of silliness.
Max and Ivan are adept at accent and characterisation, presenting a dizzying array of characters which sometimes proved a few too many for me, at least, to keep track of. But it didn’t matter, as the two ran (or hobbled), danced and jumped around the small Cellar space to represent them all. The form of the show takes in many flashbacks and filmic “meanwhile, at the…” scenes, and is slickly staged: the blocking, lighting and occasional bursts of vocalised instrumental all assist in keeping the audience on their toes and clued in to which of the many plot strands they are following.
A thoroughly wordy piece, we are taken through the many tropes of the mob film – the gangsters and their molls, the shady deals, the prostitute with a heart of gold – through the experience of the British-est of British characters. The contrast is not jarring in the slightest, the two styles are somehow made to complement each other.
After fracturing an ankle at the literally smashing show The Wrestling earlier in the week, Max Olesker’s part in Holmes and Watson was in many ways enhanced by the addition of crutches to his character, and in many ways actually goes to prove what consummate comedians Max and Ivan are. They didn’t just take what many would feel is an encumbrance in their stride, they milked the situation with improvised re-staging and plenty of winks to the very appreciative audience. The fact that they made each other laugh in the process just helped it go down all the better. They do have to remember though to be careful to project their voices to the back of the space – with lots of asides and quickly spoken sentences, they were sometimes a bit muffled.
Max and Ivan have got a lot of things right this Festival, and with the news that they have just been signed to Dawn Sedgwick management – whose other clients include David Schwimmer, Catherine Tate and Simon Pegg – it looks likely that they will continue on an upward trajectory. Expect big things from these two, and soon.