Elementary appeal

By Eric Gallippo

Riverwalk stages story of timeless Holmes

No matter how well she and her crew do recreating the world of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, director Aidiann Hinds already expects some hecklers in the audience at Riverwalk Theatre this week when it opens “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure.”

Hinds, a Holmes fan since childhood, said there are fanatics who have studied nearly every detail of the books, such as what the study should look like. “I know there’ll be Holmesians in the audience saying, ‘That’s not right,’” Hinds said.

A librarian introduced Hinds to the classic detective stories after she had finished all the Nancy Drew mysteries around age 13. “It was amazing to me to learn about deductive reasoning,” Hinds says. “I loved his personality. I loved the way Conan Doyle wrote. It’s intelligent writing.”

Although playwright Stephen Deitz penned the play in 2007, Hinds said it reflects the stories of the 1890s and 1900s and feels like Conan Doyle’s writing; many lines came from the original stories.

In addition to satisfying attentive fans, another challenge is covering the ground of the play, which takes place in two different London apartments, and includes several street scenes and a trip to Switzerland. To meet the geographic demands, Hinds says the production makes use of “very minimalist” sets that “change sometimes midsentence.”

Hinds notes that, unlike his sidekick Dr. Watson, Holmes was not well-educated. “He had some medical training, but he jumped around. He is interested in chemistry. He’s not particularly interested in philosophy, but he loved anything behavioral. He is an observer of the highest order. He gives one of the best lessons of observing life in detail that I ever learned.”

Starring as Holmes is Kevin Burnham, who Hinds calls an “absolute natural.” Watson is played by another longtime local actor, Terry Jones.

When it comes down to it, Hinds says it’s the relationship between these two friends and other recurring characters of the Holmes saga that makes the stories work. “It’s almost all about relationships,” Hinds said. “They’re not mysteries in the way some are, where you don’t know who did it until the end. You do have an idea of what’s going on.”

So what can people today take from these old detective stories?

“I think people will go home with smiles on their faces,” Hinds said. “If people are looking for escapism in times of economic problems, this is it.”

‘Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure’

15-25 7 p.m. Thursday 8 p.m. Friday & Saturday 2 p.m. Sunday
Riverwalk Theatre, 228 Museum Drive, Lansing $8-$14 (517) 482-5700