"I love being given the permission to be extraordinarily unpleasant"

Gabriella La Rocca talks to Chiswick actor Roger Llewellyn about playing Sherlock Holmes

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Sherlock Holmes.. the Death and Life plays at The Tabard Theatre from Monday 24 November to Saturday 29 November 2008. Monday – Saturday 7.30pm, Matinees, Saturday 2:30pm

Tickets: £13 (£11 concessions)

Book online at www.tabardtheatre.co.uk or 0844 847 2264

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‘He pulls out a tiny bit of fluff and expands it into a scene,’ says Roger Llewellyn of David Stuart Davies, one of the best specialist writers of Sherlock Holmes, who also worked very closely with Jeremy Brett in the notorious TV Granada production.

What happens when your literary creation takes over your life? And it becomes real? Conan Doyle wants to get rid of the arrogant and successful Holmes, he’s tired of him. What does he do? He creates Professor Moriarty to kill him. This is the starting point for Davies in his new play ‘Sherlock Holmes…The Death and Life’, written for Roger Llewellyn, showing at the Tabard Theatre from Monday 24th November, for six nights.

Llewellyn says ‘I think you ought to see Holmes as you know him, then as Conan Doyle see him. This is the hard part of this role,’ and explains ‘We are taken into territories that we have never seen before. He (Holmes) is taken out of his comfort zone,’ and ‘Moriarty is in spotlight as much as Holmes. It becomes a monologue.’

Holmes seems just as arrogant to his writers and actors as he is to his creator because he demands nothing less than equally talented individuals to understand him and play him. It was with a production of the ‘Hounds of the Baskervilles’ when the writer David Stuart Davies spotted Llewellyn and wrote the internationally acclaimed ‘Sherlock Holmes: The Last Act’.

When asked about the complexity of the role Llewellyn says ‘I am very comfortable playing the character. I enjoy the contrasts, the extremes.’ As he tilts his head back in his armchair and gives a warm laugh, he admits ‘I love being given the permission to be extraordinarily unpleasant,’ but he quickly reminds you that he injects a good doze of humour in this light hearted solo play.

Has the Holmes experience taught him anything new about his profession? He’s challenged continuously and enjoys being absorbed by the relentless energy of his character, and explains: ‘I have to act on my own. With Moriarty and Holmes I have to see both sides.’

What about Holmes and his violin? With music by Simon Slater the audience is given something fresh and new. Directed by Gareth Armstrong, the writer and actor embark in yet another insightful piece about this intriguing character. ‘Observe and deduce, Watson’ says Holmes – you cannot resist another visit at 221b Baker Street.

Gabriella La Rocca

November 21, 2008