Rehearsals in full swing for the Fitz Theatre reopeningNoah Hammond

Please tell me I was not the only one to go through a Sherlock phase. Arthur Conan Doyle’s masterpiece has captured the attention of thrill-seekers and puzzle-lovers alike since the detective solved his first case in 1887. For me, the BBC series adaptation starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman sparked my interest. Being a fan of writer, Steven Moffat, and having a slightly unhealthy fascination with murder mystery, I quickly became obsessed. For some people, it was Robert Downey Jr’s portrayal of the famous detective in Guy Richie’s 2009 film franchise, or even the CBS drama, Elementary, featuring Lucy Lui as Homles’ partner Watson (and yes, I have watched all of these). Those of you traditionalists may have actually read the books too (which I would also recommend). The play on the other hand, even hardcore fans may not know about. If you share my undying love for all things Sherlockian, you are in luck. Fitz theatre is being resurrected and their first production is Sherlock Holmes. I dropped in on a rehearsal and heard from the committee about their aims for this show. Will this kickstart the college’s theatre scene? Or will they face yet another death? The game, as the great detective would say, is afoot.

"If you share my undying love for all things Sherlockian, you are in luck"

Arriving at Fitz, I was greeted by producer and committee secretary Noah Hammond (which I am particularly thankful for because I was, as always, lost). We then caught the end of a rehearsal with actors Marta Zalicka and Louis Hadfield who play Holmes and Professor Moriarty, respectively. What struck me most about the rehearsal was not just the incredible talent of the actors but the atmosphere in the room. It was constructive, collaborative and calm - I would argue the most important C’s of theatre. I am currently taking a ‘break’ from Cambridge theatre but seeing the team rehearse may have cured my burnout. It made me remember why I enjoy theatre. Directors Kate Austin and Matthew Copeman created a space for questions and workshopping as well as obviously having a clear plan for the scene. From the small section I saw, this play is going to be tense, dramatic and witty. It’s everything you want from a Sherlock Holmes adaptation and hopefully everything the committee needs to rebuild the society.

"Seeing the team rehearse... made me remember why I enjoy theatre"

The Fitz Theatre society has seen a bumpy few years. COVID put a stop to productions and the society has been quiet ever since. Last year, the committee was all but gone and there was no vision for the future vice president, Hugh Bowers, explains to me. With a space like the Fitz auditorium and the theatrical talent within the college community, it was such a shame to hear the society was dying. You could even say it was a crime. So when the former president handed down their position to Bowers at the beginning of this year, he became committed to solving the case. Building a new committee was the first step towards putting life back in Fitz Theatre. With Kate Austin as president, Hugh Bowers as vice president, Noah Hammond as secretary, and Matthew Copeman as treasurer, they are a small but enthusiastic team. In conversation, I can tell just how well they worked together and how committed they were. Starting this project in Michaelmas, the committee brought the society back to its feet and launched the idea of a Lent term show.

The decision to stage Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and William Gillette was the right choice for bringing the crowds back to Fitz - it definitely caught my attention! The committee told me how they toyed with the idea of doing a Shakespeare to begin with. Now please don’t hate me fellow thespians, but I think we have too much Shakespeare. We are scraping the bottom of the barrel and I’m not sure how many more times I can see Romeo and Juliet. Sherlock Holmes is not only unique to the Cambridge theatre but boasts a large cast, a range of commitment levels, and a whole lot of excitement. Even with the long hike from the city centre to the distant land of Fitz, the committee saw a huge number of auditionees interested in the production. The variety of small and large parts allowed for a slightly less intimidating entrance into the theatre world. The committee explains to me how they want to make it accessible for freshers and encourage them to get involved. For Fitz students, in particular, just having a theatre society in college can make theatre less daunting. It also gives new techies a chance which are desperately needed in Cambridge Theatre.

"Sherlock Holmes is not only unique to the Cambridge theatre but boasts a large cast, a range of commitment levels, and a whole lot of excitement"

The show itself is originally written by Conan Doyle himself, Matthew Copeman explains to me. Unfortunately for him, he was a great novel writer but less so a script writer (as an Education EEDA student, I can relate). Everyone rejected his show until William Gillette picked up his script and basically rewrote it. With rambling stage directions and a huge line commitment for the actor of Holmes himself, it is not an easy script. This being said, seeing rehearsal and the dedication of the production team, I have full faith they will create a brilliant show. Kate and Matthew explain how they used the stage directors as a starting point for the scene and then cut it to fit their vision. I watch as they collaborated with the actors to work out what looked and felt good. To be honest, I am a little annoyed I didn’t apply to be involved myself.


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All the clues lead towards the Fitz Theatre revival starting with a bang. With a committed team and talented crew and cast, the future of the society seems bright. The near future, even brighter. Sherlock Holmes will be on from the 1st till the 3rd of February at Fitz Auditorium. This is not something you want to miss. Time to fuel my Sherlock obsession… So I guess I’ll see you there?

Sherlock Holmes is showing Thursday 1st to Sat 3rd February at Fitzwilliam College Auditorium.