Thursday, January 15, 2009

Riverwalk's Sherlock Holmes

Whenever I write a column, it always feels like I'm leaving out more than I'm putting in. For the most part, this is a good thing. The longer something gets, the less likely people are to read it. It's somewhat like theater itself. No one minds sitting through a three-hour play if it is compelling and engaging for those entire three hours. However, it is difficult to keep up that sort of intensity for that long. So with writing. The longer something gets, the more likely it is that the writer is simply lacking in discipline. (And yes, I know how long many of my blog entries get--I'm preaching to the mirror here!)
This week it was particularly hard to choose what went into the column and what got left out. So many people in the arts community give fantastic interviews filled with eloquent insight into the work that they do. I often feel selfish knowing that I've hoarded those words and reduced them to a few quotes in a story.

So today I'm going to do as I've done before and take advantage of the freedom a blog provides and share some of my interview with Terry Jones, who is playing Watson in Riverwalk's Sherlock Holmes this weekend and next. The full story you can read here--or better yet, go buy today's paper and read it in the What's On section.

I asked Terry whether the Watson in this play was the bumbling figure that has often been portrayed in various productions of Holmes stories or whether his was the everyman who seems slow only in comparison to the brilliance of Holmes.

His response (to that question and several others):

More of the second. Looking at Holmes himself: he’s so brilliant and aloof. Watson is his only friend. He has lots of contacts and exposure. Everybody knows him, but no one hangs with him. His idea of a good time is to discuss deep things--not so much to discuss, because before he gets into a discussion, he’s already decided what the answer is. He wants to see how more far ahead he is in that subject. He’s not a fun guy to be around for the most part. Watson, being a doctor; is very intrigued by just the biology and how Holmes works. He knows Holmes is a unique subject. He knows he’ll never come across another subject like that.

Holmes, maybe not on a conscious level, has someone he can continually bounce thngs off. He likes to chide Watson; but he doesn’t treat him like he does anyone else. He can get mean, but he would never do that with Watson.

In this particular play, you see Holmes at his most tender. There are a couple of parts where he wants Watson to be sure he understands how much Holmes cares about him. He mentions a couple times that 'I would hate to get you harmed; if you want to go about your own business I wouldn’t think less of you'.

I had a friend years ago who gave me this theory on friendship. He said with very good friends, there is something you really admire about your friend. It’s easy to see what you would admire in Holmes: he’s brilliant, over-observant. What is it in Watson that Holmes sees? He's accomplished in his practice, easy-going. Watson puts up with him.

Watson has been with Holmes for so long--he’s still dumbfounded at times and in awe--but he’s picked up on how Holmes works. The buffoonnishness is kind of gone; that was earlier when he was still getting use to Holmes. There are times when Holmes surprises him, but other times he knows where Holmes is going and arrives at almost the same time. Watson is very much more comfortable with Holmes. He doesn’t have a hard time getting a jab in to Holmes too, nothing vicious, but nothing he would have attempted early on in the relationship. He likes to push buttons; before he wouldn’t have been able to do that at all.

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