In Charles Marowitz's comedy-thriller, Dr. Watson (Bert Emmett), fed up with Sherlock Holmes' condescension and superiority, launches a diabolical plot to take revenge. He invents Damian, fictitious son of Holmes' former nemesis, the late Dr. Moriarty, and uses this imaginary figure as a decoy to lure Holmes (Chris Winfield, who also designed the handsome Victorian set) to the cellar of an abandoned building and do him in. Marowitz embraces all the conventions of the Conan Doyle stories — the all-wise, all-knowing Holmes who uses his powers of observation and deduction to solve crimes that stymie Inspector Lestrade (Patrick Burke), the loyal housekeeper Mrs. Hudson (Hersha Parady), the myopic, bumbling of Dr. Watson and, inevitably, a mysterious woman, Lisa (Allison King), who sets the plot a-boiling. The play's essentially an orchestration of clever gimmicks, but the gimmicks are clever, and they're deployed with considerable finesse. Winfield's Holmes is vain, urbane and insufferably smug, while Watson's very real loyalty and awe are undermined by abiding resentment. Parady's Mrs. Hudson is bossy, emotional and snobbish, with an excessive belief in her own charms. Director Larry Eisenberg presides over a production that is more than adequate but less than brilliant. The Group Rep at Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., N. Hlwyd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through Jan. 13. (818) 763-5990, thegrouprep.com.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Nov. 30. Continues through Jan. 13, 2012