The Secret of Sherlock Holmes is a play by Jeremy Paul, one of the script writers of the famous Granada series. The original production starred Jeremy Brett and his second Watson, Edward Hardwicke, in 1988 at Wyndham Theatre. In the summer of 2010, the play was revived at the Duchess Theatre in the West End. It was directed by Robin Hereford and starred Peter Egan and Robert Daws as Holmes and Watson, respectively.
This two-man play is neither an adventure nor a whodunnit, but rather a tribute to the remarkable friendship of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. It is one hour long and divided into two Acts: Act I covers the friendship from their meeting in A Study in Scarlet to Holmes's faked death in "The Final Problem", while Act II deals with the friendship strained by Holmes's deception, as well as the titular secret.
The last remnant of the play exists in the form of an audio recording made by Brett's close friends. An amateur restoration of Act I can be heard here and Act II is here.
This play provides examples of:
- Alternate Universe: Act II.
- Brutal Honesty: Holmes's confession. Watson is not happy.
- Byronic Hero: Holmes fits this beautifully and tragically.
- Challenge Seeker: The play really emphasizes this part of Holmes's personality.
- The Chessmaster: Holmes, oh so hard.
- Continuity Nod: Many of the original short stories are compressed into snippets to fit the time slot and keep the focus on the friendship. Impressively, Watson gets married (off-stage) to Mary Morstan this time around.
- Cursed with Awesome: Holmes's intelligence. This is actually only canonical, but it's played to near-Tear Jerker effect in the story.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Holmes reveals his unhappy childhood in a monologue to the audience.
- Darker and Edgier: Act II. Of course, Act I has its moments, as well...
- Deadpan Snarker: Holmes and Watson certainly have their moments...Holmes: "Tell the truth, Watson, or at least as much of it as your gullible public will digest."
- Good is Not Nice: Holmes in Act II.
- Guile Hero: Need we really say?
- He Who Fights Monsters
- Intelligence Equals Isolation: As Act I progresses, Holmes appears to grow somewhat distant from Watson, keeping things to himself - and it's really heartbreaking.
- Ironic Echo:Watson: "On the contrary, I think it very evident that I do."
- Large Ham: Holmes in the original production. You think Jeremy Brett was hammy in the series? He takes it up to eleven on-stage, chewing enormous chunks of scenery.
- Master of Disguise: Naturally, as this is Sherlock Holmes we're talking about, but Act II takes it up to eleven with one particular disguise. One theatre-goer reported that Jeremy Brett transformed "with a shake of the head and a click of the tongue" into what this character looked like in the original Sidney Paget illustration.
- The McCoy: Watson.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Holmes, in-universe. Though the niceness factor is entirely questionable...
- Not So Stoic: "BECAUSE I COULD NOT LIVE WITH HIM!"
- Offscreen Villainy: Moriarty.
- The Power of Friendship: The Central Theme of the play.
- Promoted to Love Interest: Left ambiguous, but Holmes sounds suspiciously wistful when speaking of Irene Adler - Watson notices and rebukes him by saying that she is a married woman. Holmes counters sadly that she is dead.
- The Reveal:
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Holmes's (weak) justification for his titular secret.
- Sherlock Scan: Watson actually does this on Mycroft, of all people. And then reveals his results to Sherlock much later on.
- The Spock: Holmes.
- Unreliable Narrator: Holmes turns out to be this.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The fate of Mary Watson is of those things that Doyle left vague, but, in the play, it's specified that she died during the Great Hiatus.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Watson delivers a harsh one to Holmes in Act II.