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Arsène Lupin VS Sherlock Holmes

Theatre Review by Howard Miller - April 25, 2016

The game is afoot as the famed English consulting detective Sherlock Holmes locks horns with the French "gentleman thief" Arsène Lupin in a mashup play based on stories by the creators of each of these characters and adapted by Thomas R. Gordon for the Onomatopoeia Theatre Company.

Titled Arsène Lupin Vs Sherlock Holmes, the play combines several plot elements culled from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Maurice LeBlanc, the originators, respectively, of Holmes and Lupin, both of whom graced a great number of popular tales around the turn of the twentieth century. Mr. Gordon brings them together for a caper involving the theft of a diamond, with some international intrigue thrown in for good measure.

Fans of Sherlock Holmes (here presented in a low-keyed performance by Philip O'Gorman) may be somewhat disappointed to find he takes rather a back seat to both Lupin (Kevin Sebastian) and to a new character Mr. Gordon brings in. That would be someone introduced as Holmes's daughter, A. J. Raffles (Lisa Monde), named for another fictional "gentleman thief" from the time period, this one the invention of Doyle's brother-in-law E. W. Hornung.

With a plot as convoluted and improbable as any of those concocted by the originators, and with a divergent array of faux French accents tossed about willy-nilly by the cast members (nicely attired in Al Malonga's period costumes), it is sometimes difficult to follow the exposition-rich dialog. It takes a while for the plot to thicken enough to get this escapade moving at high speed, though Mr. Sebastian and Ms. Monde do their best to whip things into an appropriately melodramatic frenzy. Add to the mix the usual assortment of red herrings, multiple suspects, and incompetent police officials, and you've got enough to keep things at sixes and sevens until the final wrap-up.

One of the prime suspects in the diamond heist is a woman named Toto Fouinard (played with just the right air of sophisticated fanfaronade by Tracilyn Jones), whose name Gordon has co-opted from yet another popular fictional character of the era. Since head-spinning illogic reigns supreme, we'll let our Mme. Fouinard have the parting word: "French people stress me out. I need vodka!"

Arsène Lupin VS Sherlock Holmes
Through May 14
Gene Frankel Theatre, 24 Bond Street between Lafayette and Bowery
Tickets online and current Performance Schedule: Brown Paper Tickets

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