A Witty Mystery: ‘Surely, Sherlock’
Who committed the crimes? No one knows. Welcome to the Disoriented Express. Surely, Sherlock is a witty musical written by Ann Marie Mortensen and Daniel Smith with lyrics and music by Michael Capon. The musical is a parody of the 2017 hit movie, Murder on The Orient Express, and is being performed at the Baby Grand Theatre in the 2023 Kingston Fringe Festival as part of the 2023 Kick and Push Festival. In this play, we embark on the Disorient Express and follow the large ensemble cast throughout their day on the train as it travels from Kingston, Ontario to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Almost every character is split into pairs whom they mainly interact with. Throughout the day we hear from each pair and why they are travelling to Brazil while also trying to solve some mysteries.
The musical begins with a song—one that has an extremely catchy melody and is prominent throughout the show (and lingered in my head long after). In this opening number we are introduced to the cast of characters through Porter, the ticket collector. Porter has a small chat with every pair as he stamps their ticket. Each character has a fairly cookie cutter personality and shallow depth to them which, in the context of the musical, I appreciate. There are many characters to remember—16 to be exact—so by adding too much depth it might make the play confusing for a first-time viewer.
During this opening number we are told that there are criminals of three different felonies aboard the Disorient Express. As we learn more about each character, the audience tries to figure out, along with the characters, who committed/will commit each crime.
I thoroughly enjoyed the staging, lighting, and direction throughout the performance. I admired its simplistic nature of only using chairs to create the notion that we are watching people on a train. It is “elementary” but not confusing one bit. Even when we were switching between each pairing in their cabin, through the lighting, the audience was clearly able to understand what was happening.
It would be dismissive of me if I did not address the music in a musical. Capon did a fantastic job creating the music and lyrics. As stated before, the melody which is persistent throughout the musical is extremely catchy and I found every song pushed the story forward. One of my biggest pet peeves is when there are songs in musicals for song sake and not to advance the story. In this case, it was the total opposite. The music was composed and presented fairly simply; there is only a pianist onstage playing the music live. This can lead to repetitiveness but through comical lyrics and splendid performances, it never gets stale.
Everyone in the cast had a superb performance, especially with this being their premiere.There were some very minor hiccups but the cast took them in stride and executed the musical very well. One stand out performance was Fiona Beech as the “famous” Sheila Jones. While onstage she shows great comedic timing in a role she executes impeccably.
The script is hilarious—I was smiling or laughing the entire time which made the one hour runtime seem like ten minutes. Each character is interesting and the dynamic between pairs is fuelled by great chemistry. Every duo is humorous in their own way, which is something I also admire.
One quarrel I have with the musical is that it felt too short and I believe there is more story to tell. The performance did feel short because I enjoyed the ride so much, which is positive. The problem was I found the ending somewhat unsatisfying. The reveal of the criminals feels rushed and too easy. I also felt the final twist in the show came out of nowhere, making me feel like I did not understand the characters I have been watching for the past hour.
With all of this being said, I had a great time at the Baby Grand. Surely, Sherlock has the basis for a fantastic musical. It was the most fun I have had in a theatre in a long time and I am considering seeing it again given I had such an amusing viewing the first time around.
This article was edited on December 1st, 2023 to update formatting.