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World premiere of electrifying new rock musical Sherlock Holmes and the Poison Wood opens in Newbury this week





The world premiere of the electrifying new rock musical Sherlock Holmes and the Poison Wood, co-produced with Metta Theatre, opens tomorrow (Friday February 2) at The Watermill, Bagnor, and runs to March 16. We took a look in at rehearsals...

Gillian Kirkpatrick (Jan Moriarty), Me'sha Bryan (Dr Amanda Watson), Dylan Wood (Sherlock Holmes) and Richard P. Peralta (Inspector Marlon Lestrade), Photo by Mark Senior
Gillian Kirkpatrick (Jan Moriarty), Me'sha Bryan (Dr Amanda Watson), Dylan Wood (Sherlock Holmes) and Richard P. Peralta (Inspector Marlon Lestrade), Photo by Mark Senior

Adapted from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, Sherlock Holmes and the Poison Wood marks the latest collaboration between award-winning writer and director P Burton-Morgan and composer Ben Glasstone (The Rhythmics, Cells). As part of The Watermill Theatre and Metta Theatre’s commitment to environmental sustainability, the physical production from set to props and costumes will be sourced entirely from second hand materials.

P Burton-Morgan said: “Sherlock Holmes and his dazzling mental gymnastics meets his match in the lyrical virtuosity and ear-worm rock anthems of mine and Ben Glasstone's latest collaboration. We're thrilled to bring this brand-new musical to electrifying life with a venue fast becoming the de facto home of original British musical theatre.”

Connor Bannister (Sherlock Holmes), Me'sha Bryan (Dr Amanda Watson), Richard P. Peralta (Inspector Marlon Lestrade), Photo by MArk Senior
Connor Bannister (Sherlock Holmes), Me'sha Bryan (Dr Amanda Watson), Richard P. Peralta (Inspector Marlon Lestrade), Photo by MArk Senior

London 2024. Doggedly pursuing success as a private detective, Sherlock Holmes is faced with a new case; an unexplained death in the infamous environmental protest camp at Oakenwood. Supported by his media-savvy landlady, Dr Amanda Watson, Sherlock’s keen eye for detail and tireless pursuit of the truth has brought a growing online fandom and an uncomfortable intrusion into his private life.

Delving into the details, Sherlock suspects that arch-nemesis Jan Moriarty is at the root of the case, but the game’s afoot and they must move fast to uncover the truth and foil her plans. In a world of cancel culture, deepfakes and digital manipulation, only self-discovery and acceptance can unlock this case.

Connor Bannister (Sherlock Holmes), Loren O'Dair (Sasha), Dylan Wood (Sherlock Holmes), Photo by Mark Senior
Connor Bannister (Sherlock Holmes), Loren O'Dair (Sasha), Dylan Wood (Sherlock Holmes), Photo by Mark Senior

Watermill artistic director Paul Hart added: “We’re delighted to be working with Metta Theatre to bring this new musical, Sherlock Holmes and the Poison Wood, to the Watermill. Taking the much-loved detective duo and planting them in our modern world of social media, cancel culture and the climate crisis, combined with a live rock score, a fantastic cast and creative team and lots and lots of doughnuts is the perfect way to start 2024.”

Audiences can delve deeper behind the scenes of Sherlock Holmes and the Poison Wood with workshops from writer and director P Burton-Morgan on Performance Process (February 24), and with choreographer Mark Smith on Movement (March 2).

The Cast of Sherlock Holmes and the Poison Wood, Photo by Mark Senior
The Cast of Sherlock Holmes and the Poison Wood, Photo by Mark Senior

https://www.watermill.org.uk/

Cast:

The part of Sherlock will be shared over the course of the run by Connor Bannister (All or Nothing, West End) and Dylan Wood (Moorcroft and Orphans, National Theatre of Scotland), Me’sha Bryan (The Color Purple, UK Tour; As You Like It, Regents Park Open Air Theatre) will play ‘Dr Amanda Watson’, Gillian Kirkpatrick (Hairspray, London Coliseum; American Psycho, Almeida Theatre) will play ‘Jan Moriarty’, Richard P. Peralta (Much Ado About Nothing UK Tour, Ramps on the Moon and Sheffield Theatres) will play ‘Inspector Marlon Lestrade, EM Williams (After the Act, Breach Theatre at New Diorama) will play ‘Yorri Tremaly’, and Loren O’Dair (Peter Pan, National Theatre at The Troubadour; Ghost Stories by Candlelight, HighTide Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe) will play ‘Sasha’.

P Burton-Morgan, Photo by MArk Senior
P Burton-Morgan, Photo by MArk Senior

Metta Theatre Artistic Director P Burton-Morgan directs, along with book and lyrics, with music & lyrics by Ben Glasstone, set & lighting design by William Reynolds (Metta Theatre’s co-Artistic Director & Resident Designer, Tubular Bells, Circa / Southank Centre and International Tour), video design by Matt Powell (Accidental Death of an Anarchist – Lyric Hammersmith, Theatre Royal Haymarket), sound design by Beth Duke (The Suspicions of Mr Whicher – Watermill) and choreography by Mark Smith (The Little Big Things - @sohoplace).



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