Saturday, 18 January 2014

Wine and a singing lesson while I type about BBC Sherlock

Well, not a singing lesson, actually, but Tony Pedretti's Group 3 practise session 2. It goes really quite a way along toward the tinkly end of the piano. I am really quite tipsy.  I have high hopes for this vocal workout.

I've had lots of exciting auditions - one of which was for a newly-thought-out production of a gutsy Shakespeare, which I've yet to hear from but got so much out of the audition and had such a fun three and a half hours of geekery it was worth going, even if I don't get it. I'm supposed to be shooting a short film tomorrow - only my second, so suitably terrified - however, I get murdered. I am more exited for the murder-acting than I really should be.

I want to briefly put my tuppence in on reflection upon some of the reactions I've seen to Sherlock S3, just because there have, of course, been some strange and tactless rants going about that I'm not all that keen on, and not for the most obvious reasons.

I am not the sort of person who goes to view or experience something with the attitude of "Impress me." Not even with a take on something so dear to my heart as Theatre. Or Sherlock Holmes. Give me what you have, Thing I'm About To Watch, and I will sit there and give it my due attention and take it or leave it depending on how it affects me.

What I want to get down to is how can anyone possibly be so viciously - and some responses I've seen have been very viscous indeed - comparing BBC's Sherlock to any other version. 
It's set in the present day. Granada were canonical, and went Victorian. Rathbone had forays into WW2 era. Johnny Lee Miller's Holmes joins Cumberbatch's in the present day but, in a departure from all mentioned above, is solving crimes in the States.

Our environment affects us in ways we cannot imagine. From how we dress to the accent we talk in to how we see the world. Sherlock Holmes, as lovers of the book know him, is not what we see in Cumbers or Miller or Rathbone or Downey Jr and though Jeremy Brett's dedication gave us the closest version we could hope for in terms of the Holmes of the Canon - Brett himself says Holmes is better read, and he is right, before any of us indulge in 90 minutes of Sherlock thrice every 2000 years, why not indulge ourselves in those tantalising tales that started everything? Why HAVE they survived? These stories are over a hundred years old. People are STILL buying them. They know who Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson are, they know half the stories without even realising.

A character from a book, so fascinating, so closed and enigmatic as Holmes - how can he be pinpointed? Conan Doyle may know how. He would have had a handle on Holmes that none of us could ever understand, as his creator - but we do not have him to guide every adaptation, to advise every actor that comes on the scene.

All we have is curiosity. What if Sherlock Holmes lived in the present day? Would his mannerisms, his language, his methods, be different to the man from the books, swathed in Victorian society? Of COURSE he would. Benedict Cumberbatch is not playing a Victorian man wandering around 2013 London. If he was, he would not be challenging himself as a professional actor.  He is playing a man called Sherlock Holmes, brought up in the late 70s/early 80s, living in the age of social media, who happens to possess mental ability based on those displayed by the Holmes of the books. To sit down in front of the telly and expect Holmes as you have imagined him in the books would be not only setting yourself up for a fall, but denying yourself the possible enjoyment of what is an entertaining, interesting, and beautifully shot piece of television. 

The Downey Jr films are about as far away from Holmes as it is possible to get, in terms of how I see the Holmes of the books. My sister treats me with tickets to see them because we have a hilarious time, with me going "WHAT IS THIS NO WAIT WHY IS HE DOING THAT" and laughing the whole time and she just likes all the explosions. It's a given they were never going to be pure Holmes. It's a gritty Hollywood action adventure.  They tick that box supremely. I come away bemused, perhaps, but not angry.

At the other end of the scale, anyone who knows me would let you know in no uncertain terms of my great admiration for Jeremy Brett.  I trawl Amazon for his non-Holmesian works. There is ALWAYS a Brett-Holmes disk in my DVD player. He brought the detective that fascinated me in childhood truly to life in such detail it takes my breath away, as it does for many people. But his Holmes is still his opinion - what we see in the beautiful series from Granada Television is Jeremy's understanding of who Sherlock Holmes is. What about David Burke and Edward Hardwicke as Doctor Watson? Two supremely different, but no less interesting, opinions of the man Conan Doyle created on paper. 

If you want pure Holmes, stick to the books. That's fine, and safer. But remember, the human race would not have gotten very far if we never asked What If...and the Arts would not exist at all. 
Go open minded into any new thing you experience, ESPECIALLY if it means a lot to you. If you like it, celebrate. If you don't, shrug your shoulders and go back to something you DO like.

Chin chin.

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