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Behind the Curtain: An Interview with Sherlock Holmes: The Valley of Fear star Bobby Bradley


 

Following UK-wide success in 2023, Blackeyed Theatre is reviving its acclaimed Sherlock Holmes: The Valley of Fear in Spring 2024, including a three-week London premiere at Southwark Playhouse Borough. Adapted by Nick Lane from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fourth and final Sherlock Holmes novel, The Valley of Fear, is crammed full of adventure, mystery and one or two rather brilliant deductions.


This thrilling show makes a much-anticipated return in a production combining stylish theatricality, original music and gripping storytelling.


I got the chance to speak to star of The Valley of Fear star Bobby Bradley to find out more about the show...


 

Photo credit: Simon Vail


For those who may not have read the novel or seen a Sherlock Holmes movie, can you tell us what The Valley of Fear is about?


The story begins with the famous consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his companion Dr. Watson early one morning at 221b Baker Street, when a mysterious cipher message arrives in the post from an elusive source. As they decode the message, they are drawn into the puzzle surrounding the violent death of a wealthy man the night before, in a small village outside of London. While we follow the dynamic duo on their quest to solve the case, we are also shown the tale of a man in Vermissa Valley, Pennsylvania, twenty years earlier as he navigates a ruthless band of criminals in the small mining town. How are these stories linked? Who is behind the murder? and how did the killer escape from the house when it is surrounded by a large moat?


Without giving anything away, who is your character?


In our story I play the part of Sherlock Holmes, the famous detective and subject of Dr. Watson's bestselling stories. Also, as we tell our story in two different settings, I play the part of a ruthless, dangerous criminal Teddy Baldwin, a member of a shadowy brotherhood, bringing terror and violence to Vermissa Valley.


With the show described as “combining stylish theatricality, original music and gripping storytelling” can you tell us more about this and what the uniqueness of this show has?


For twenty years now, Blackeyed Theatre has been bringing incredible theatrical experiences to audiences all over the country, and our show is no exception. Building on traditional theatre methods, like telling story through scenes, narration, and characters (familiar to us all), we also take from a fresher, more modern style with multi-roling, fight choreography, movement, live sound and singing, even slow motion at one point! Blending all of these together with a flair and style that has kept audiences gripped and coming back for more.


Has anything changed since the last production?


Well, in a word? Me. The Valley of Fear enjoyed a hugely successful tour, starting in 2022, and the gang are back, but this time I'm stepping into the role of Sherlock - so it has been quite a journey bringing everything back together. But even with one new actor, we're finding new moments that stand out, touches here and there that gives the show a freshness and that fascination we enjoy so much, and we hope audiences will too.


How are the rehearsals going? And is there anything as a performer you have learnt within the rehearsal process to help your character development and to help get the show across the audience?


The big thing for me was about knowing when you've worked it out. As you might expect, Sherlock is always a step ahead of the other characters (well, most of them at least), but as a company we have to make sure the audience are right there with us. One thing I've really found useful from rehearsal is making those discoveries in the scene, not being too clever (as Sherlock), so we can all share that moment together. If we move too fast, we leave the audience behind, too slow and everyone gets bored. It's a bit of a balancing act.



Photo credit: Simon Vail


How do you and the rest of the cast bring a different slant to this production?


Well this production is the first time the novel has been brought to the stage, a true first. It is a unique chance to join the mystery of the Valley of Fear, and the other good news is that the rest of the cast are brilliant! They each bring depth and charm to their numerous roles, and each with a distinct character. It is a joy bringing this story to life with such a talented team.


What is the easiest and most difficult part when you are part of a show which is a well known story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?


Easiest: Just the fact we get to go on this journey every night. It's a cracking story, and a fascinating little puzzle. Bringing audiences into that world and solving it alongside them is fantastic.


Most difficult: Sherlock is such a beloved character and the stories have been celebrated for over a century. There is definitely a sense of responsibility in bringing the story to the stage, we want to do it justice and hope it lives up to expectations.


What do you think the reaction of the audiences will be? And how do you want them to feel when they walk out the door?


Well as I write we have just started the run, and audiences' reactions so far has been phenomenal. We've had some lovely words online and in person from audience members who have enjoyed the show, and we hear that onstage too. The story may be about solving a murder, but there is a lot of fun to be had as well, seeing Holmes and Watson's relationship, meeting all the people of this drama. Hearing audiences laugh, gasp, cheer and everything else in between - we'd love audiences to leave feeling gripped by the conclusion, entertained by the story, and perhaps a little hungry for more...


What is your favourite part of the show?


My favourite part is (no spoilers!) when Sherlock is piecing together all the facts and is just starting to work it out.


There are a few moments where Sherlock takes a step forward, but he's ahead of everyone else - it's a beautiful, blissful moment to look around and take it all in. No doubt some people in the audience will have worked it out too.


Can you describe the show in one sentence?


One sentence? Only one sentence!? I'll give it a try...A man running from fear, and vengeance hot on his trail, join the great detective and his steadfast companion as they are embroiled in a dangerous mystery, taking them from a lavish moated manor house, to the cruel, ruthless heart of a secret society twenty year before

 


Photo credit: Simon Vail

 

Sherlock Holmes: The Valley of Fear is currently touring until 20th of April at Theatre Royal Bath


Please note that Sherlock Holmes: The Valley of Fear runs for 2 hours and 30 minutes and has an age guide of 11+




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