We Happy Few has released the second episode for their Detective Audio Plays featuring the accounts of the well-known Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of Norwood Builder) and the original lady detective, Loveday Brooks (Loveday Brooke in the Murder at Troyte’s Hill).
Sherlock Holmes needs no introduction, but Artistic Director Kerry McGee describes the less familiar Loveday Brooke’s stories with the following:
Loveday Brooke was one of the more famous Sherlock Holmes contemporaries, and was a bestseller when released in 1893. She was even dubbed the “Female Sherlock Holmes.” Loveday is generally credited with being the first female detective from a female writer. One of my favorite quotes is from an 1893 review: “[she] continues to outshine the detective Sherlock Holmes in preternatural prescience… We are just afraid Miss Brooke is too clever in catching criminals ever to catch a husband.” Hilarious.
For those that missed the first round of episodes, the audio recordings are adapted from the stories of the same titles of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Catherine Louisa Pirkis and accompanied by packets of extras, which include a detailed letter, specialty tea concocted for each story, evidence packets to be opened while listening, a newspaper including the usual show-program information and short articles relevant for the time of the story, plus various other extras.
The time and attention to detail spent on developing these audio plays are incredibly impressive. And the plays are fantastic for family activities and game nights with friends. I listened to the first episodes when they were released in the beginning of 2021, with my youngest. We had a great time looking through the evidence and deciphering clues. The experience is constructed to allow the audience to participate in the mystery as much or as little as desired, with musical cues to alert you to when it is time to open the next envelope.
This second round of episodes is equally engrossing. Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of Norwood Builder is the second tale from The Return of Sherlock Holmes and was originally published in 1903. The play involves a young lawyer, McFarlane (Alex Turner), accused of murdering one of his clients. As is the norm with Doyle’s tales, Watson, voiced by Dylan J. Fleming, and Sherlock, voiced by Jon Reynolds, don’t share the same inclinations as Inspector Lestrade (Suzanne Marti) and must work against time to prove their suspicions and save an innocent man. The story has multiple twists with clever deceptions that even Sherlock nearly misses. And if you can figure out the mystery before Sherlock does his classic breakdown of discovery, then more power to you.
Loveday Brooke in the Murder at Troyte’s Hill was originally published in 1893 and also surrounds a murder investigation, but the story is much more sinister and dangerous. Brooke, voiced by Debora Crabbe, works with Detective Griffiths (Andrew Flurer) to unravel the mystery behind the brutal murder of old Sandy, a lodge-keeper of Mr. Craven (Louis E. Davis). There is a discovery of the equally cruel murder of the Craven’s dog, Captain, along with strange illnesses and family departures to explain. The story is riveting. and I am compelled to read Pirkis’s writings, which it was adapted from.
We Happy Few’s Detective Audio Plays are a wonderful diversion for an individual or group. Once the episode is purchased and the extras package received, the adventure can be started at your convenience, which is an added perk for those with busy schedules. The style of art is a continuation of the expansion of theater that came as a silver lining of the pandemic and is perfect for those longing for performance but still hesitant to venture out in public to live productions.
Many kudos to the creative team for continuing this new genre of interactive audio theater, which stimulates the mind and introduces classic literature and undervalued female heroines that could otherwise be forgotten in the future.
Running Times: Loveday Brooke in the Murder at Troyte’s Hill is about one hour, and Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of Norwood Builder is about 56 minutes, not including optional pauses to peruse included materials and evidence.
Tickets for Loveday Brooke in the Murder at Troyte’s Hill and Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of Norwood Builder by We Happy Few are $32 (plus shipping and handling) and are available for purchase online.
Norwood Builder credits
Cast: Jon Reynolds as Sherlock Holmes, Dylan J. Fleming as Watson, Debora Crabbe as Mrs. Hudson, Miranda Hall as Mrs. McFarlane, Suzanne Martin as Lestrade, Kerry McGee as Mrs. Lexington, Eric Messner as Jonas Oldare, Alex Turner as John Hector McFarlane
Creative Team: Directed by Mauricio Pita, Adapted by Robert Pike, Sound Design by Tosin Olufolabi and Robert Pike, Produced by Emilia Pazniokas, Production Manager- Sam Reilly, Original Music Created by Meg Lowey, Audience Experience Designed by
Emilia Pazniokas, Stefany Pesta, Kerry McGee, Jon Reynolds, Paige O’Malley, & Keith Hock, Graphic Design by Stefany Pesta, Kerry McGee, Jon Reynolds, & Keith Hock, Dialect Coach-Zach Campion, Dramaturgy-Keith Hock
Murder at Troyte’s Hill credits
Cast: Debora Crabbe as Loveday Brooke, Josh Adams as Burt, Louis E. Davis as Mr. Craven, Andrew Flurer as Detective Griffiths, Miranda Hall as Mrs. Craven, Emilia Pazniokas as Miss Elm, Robert Pike as Mr. Dyer, Jon Reynolds as John Hale, and Gabby Wolfe as Cook
Creative Team: Directed and Adapted by Kerry McGee, Sound Design by Tosin Olufolabi and Robert Pike, Produced by Emilia Pazniokas, Production Manager-Sam Reilly, Original Music Created by Meg Lowey, Audience Experience Designed by Emilia Pazniokas, Stefany Pesta, Kerry McGee, Jon Reynolds, Paige O’Malley, Keith Hock, & Rachel Dixon, Graphic Design by Stefany Pesta & Kerry McGee, Dialect Coach- Zach Campion, Dramaturgy-Keith Hock
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