Theatre | The Crucifer of Blood | Ken Longworth

DYNAMIC DUO: Alex Faber, as Sherlock Holmes, with Duncan Gordon, as Dr Watson, in DAPA Theatre's The Crucifer of Blood.
DYNAMIC DUO: Alex Faber, as Sherlock Holmes, with Duncan Gordon, as Dr Watson, in DAPA Theatre's The Crucifer of Blood.

RENOWNED detective Sherlock Holmes is first seen in an unusual situation in the play The Crucifer of Blood. He’s in the lounge room of his Baker Street apartment, wearing a dressing gown and playing a violin.

Then he has visitors. First, friend Dr John Watson, and then a young woman, Irene St Claire, who desperately appeals for his help in trying to protect her father. That parent is a retired British army captain who, with three other men, stole a priceless treasure during a revolt in India 30 years earlier and now is threatened with slaughter by unknown assailants.

Holmes eagerly takes on the investigation, while Dr Watson finds himself attracted to the woman.

The Crucifer of Blood was adapted by American playwright Paul Giovanni from Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel The Sign of Four, with elements from other Sherlock Holmes’ stories included. And in this story, Holmes is barely 30 and in his early investigative days.

DAPA Theatre is staging The Crucifer of Blood for a three-weekend season at its Hamilton theatre from Saturday, August 26.

The production gives young actors the chance to show their skills in a detective story that is full of surprises, with Alex Faber as Sherlock Holmes and Duncan Gordon as Dr Watson.

The story opens in India in 1857, showing how a curse is put on the four assailants by their victims, with that curse seemingly taking effect as they begin to become murder victims in 1887. Holmes finds himself in a spooky lodge, an opium den, and a boat chase on the river Thames as he investigates the deaths and curse. And there are amusing interactions with an inept Scotland Yard detective, Inspector Lestrade.

Alex Faber says that Holmes is initially clearly bored, and eagerly accepts Irene’s plea to help save her father. “She’s a strong and independent woman, and assists Holmes and Watson in trying to resolve her father’s troubles,” he notes.  

Maddie Richards, who plays Irene St Claire, said the variety of characters and their relationships in the story add to the intrigue.

Director David Murray has also taken on the role of Irene’s father, Captain Neville St Claire, with Oliver Pink as Major Alastair Ross, the chief British officer involved in the treasure chest robbery, and Michael Smythe as a private who is forced by the officers to take part in the theft. Peter Eyre is the dunderhead Inspector Lestrade, and Sean Hixon has multiple roles.

The Crucifer of Blood opens at DAPA Theatre, 145 Beaumont Street, Hamilton, on Saturday, August 26, at 7.30pm, then plays Friday at 7.30pm and Saturday at 2pm and 7.30pm, until September 9, plus a 2pm Sunday matinee on August 27.

Tickets: $28, concession $25. Bookings: 0416 252 446.