In this ever evolving age of the coronavirus, theaters have been experimenting in ways to keep the arts alive and thriving. We Happy Few has recently been producing audio recordings with extras. Their most recent creation is an audio drama of Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Dancing Men, written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and adapted by Kerry McGee.
Along with a link to the recording, audience members receive by mail an audience experience package (the extras) with assorted items related to the show. This packet (graphic design by Stefany Pesta) included evidence in separate sealed envelopes, a small magnifying glass, a program (cleverly created as an article in a 1898 The Hound & Herald newspaper), and a custom tea blend (Dancing Sherlock).
These extras are a brilliant way to involve the audience and create a socially distanced immersive experience. And as Sherlock and Watson investigations are always busy with observation and deduction, the multimedia journey becomes an exercise of the mind.
Mauricio Pita directed the piece, with sound design by Tosin Olufolabi and Robert Pike. The audio has the feel of an old-time classic radio show (think Johnny Dollar or Gunsmoke) complete with original theme music (by Meg Lowey) and sound effects. There’s even a musical cue to let the audience know when it’s time to open an evidence packet.
Sherlock’s beloved colleague, Dr. John Watson (Dylan J. Fleming), narrates the story as he relates their most recent investigation in a letter.
Sherlock Holmes (Jon Reynolds) has taken on a new case involving Hilton Cubbin (Louis E. Davis) of Ridling Thorpe Manor. Hilton is concerned about his wife, Elsie (Jenna Murphy). She has a mysterious history that she never talks about and which Hilton, as a condition of their engagement, swore not to ask about. Elsie affirmed herself free of any wrongdoing yet simply wanted to leave the past behind her.
Hilton had no reason to doubt his wife but became concerned for her after she was greatly affected by a letter that arrived. The letter contained various stick figures of what appeared to be dancing men. There was nothing else on the page. Had Elsie not reacted the way she did, Hilton would have assumed the letter to be some sort of joke and not given it a second thought.
More of the odd drawn figures start to appear on a window sill, and then a door panel, and Elsie is in a panic. Sherlock must work to unlock the puzzling case before it’s too late. Elsie’s past is revealed, gunshots are fired, and a man dies. But I won’t spoil the story. You must have a listen yourself.
We Happy Few’s audio collections are beyond entertaining. Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Dancing Men was engaging, exciting, interactive, and, for a lover of sleuthing, wholly satisfying. I shared the adventure with two of my tweens, but the experience is perfect for date night, family time, or some solid individual fun.
Congratulations to the We Happy Few creative team for breathing fresh air into an old tradition of audio entertainment. And bringing joy (and mystery) to the monotony of these pandemic days.
Running Time: About 50 minutes.
Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Dancing Men will continue streaming online while supplies last. To purchase a $30 ticket for viewing access and explore other available works, visit the We Happy Few website.
FEATURING: Jon Reynolds as Sherlock Holmes, Dylan J. Fleming as Watson, Josh Adams as Inspector Martin, Louis E. Davis as Hilton Cubitt, Jenna Murphy as Elsie Cubitt, Paige O’Malley as Abe Slaney, Tosin Olufolabi as the Station Master, Emilia Pazniokas as Mrs. King, Alex Turner as the Stable Boy
DIRECTED BY Mauricio Pita, SOUND DESIGN BY Tosin Olufolabi and Robert Pike, PRODUCER Emilia Pazniokas, PRODUCTION MANAGER Sam Reilly, GRAPHIC DESIGN Stefany Pesta, ORIGINAL MUSIC BY Meg Lowey, DIALECT COACH Zach Campion
AUDIENCE EXPERIENCE DESIGNED BY Alex Turner, Emilia Pazniokas, Stefany Pesta, Kerry McGee, Jon Reynolds, Paige O’Malley, Tosin Olufolabi, Sam Reilly, Robert Pike, and Bridget Grace Sheaff