At first, Squamish director Carla Fuhre wasn't drawn to the script for the fast-paced Sherlock Holmes, The Final Adventure.
She had scoured several adaptations of the famous detective stories and this one was overwhelming with its rapid pace and multiple scene changes. It seemed like a daunting production for Between Shifts Theatre. But, still, she found herself coming back to the story.
"I read it a couple more times and thought it could work. It's great. It's got romance. It's got action. It's got humour. It's got it all," she says.
The production is set in 1893 with Holmes slated to retire when a tempting case arises. The King of Bohemia is about to be blackmailed by the famous opera singer Irene Adler. Holmes takes the case, falling for Adler in the process, and comes face-to-face with his nemesis, Professor Moriarty. "This one is based on the original 1899 play by William Gillette and Arthur Conan Doyle. It's very well written. The pacing is fast. It's very theatrical. It combines two of the more famous (Sherlock Holmes) books," Fuhre adds.
A cast of seven was chosen back in September and has been rehearsing for the theatre company's annual fall production. A crew of volunteers has also been working away creating period costumes and a set that's split in two to keep up with the intense pace.
Hoping to launch from the recent revival of the Holmes tales (with the productions like 2009's Sherlock Holmes movie starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, for example) Fuhre says the play is aimed at a wide audience (though it might not be accessible for very young children). "This show is for teenagers all the way up to 80 or 90 years old," she adds. "(They'll) be transported for an hour or two to late 1800s England and have an escape from everyday life."
In terms of aesthetic, she envisioned dark, foggy old London. Breaking from convention, the Watson character also wanders in and out of scenes to narrate. "I'm trying to make it a bit more comic book-style, film noir," she adds. "That's the feeling we're hoping to get with the set and costumes."
For Fuhre, who has been volunteering for Between Shifts for around 14 years, it was important to make sure the production was appealing enough for a younger crowd. "They're the future of theatre, the future of art," she says. "I basically grew up going to the theatre and ballet and art galleries. We were a very active family as well. It's good to be well rounded. The arts are just as important at academics and sports. (It helps) you see the world through different eyes."
As the only theatre company in Squamish, the group of volunteers is hoping to keep the art alive, attracting large crowds to fund future productions. "We hope people come out and support us and enjoy," Furhe says. "I'm really proud of this show. I think it's great."
Catch the play Nov. 22, 23, 24, 29, 30 and Dec. 1 at the Eagle Eye Theatre in Squamish at 7 p.m.
Tickets are available for $20 for adults and $15 for seniors and students (and two for one opening night) online at www.betweenshiftstheatre.com, Billies Flower House or Republic Bikes.