A collection of historic reviews and articles on Sherlockian theatrical performances from contemporary newspapers.

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The Speckled Band (Arthur Conan Doyle)
March 2-8: The Brixton Theatre, London, England

(Information above on performance dates is derived from newspaper archives and is therefore likely to be incomplete.)



Seldom has the Brixton accommodated such a vast and enthusiastic audience as that which assembled on Monday evening to witness Sir Conan Doyle's plays, The Speckled Band and Waterloo, and also hear what the well-known writer had to say on the subject of volunteering.

Sir Conan Doyle, who was received by a guard of honour furnished by the Streatham Volunteer Training Corps, arrived quite early upon the scene, and after he had witnessed the performance of his one-act play, Waterloo, took the stage himself and spoke at some length upon the subject and how important it was that every able man should do something to help England at this anxious time. He was frequently applauded, and at the close enthusiastically cheered, and Sir Harry Samuels also spoke.

After a brief interval, in which some excellent recruiting work was accomplished both by the corps and the theatre staff, headed by Mr. Norman Maurice and Mr. Chris Mason, the audience settled down to enjoy the chief fare of the evening, The Speckled Band.

In the performance of this play, which is being given by a specially selected company of amateurs, one may praise warmly the able work done by Mr. Charles J. G. Tate, who, as Dr. Grimesby Rylott, interests and holds the house in all his scenes. Mr. Tate also is responsible for producing both plays.

Mr. Sydney Herbert's portrait of the detective Sherlock Holmes is capital. Miss Clare Harris is a sympathetic Enid. Tho old butler, Rodgers, and Mrs. Staunton are admirabiy played by Mr. . K. Boddy and Mrs. Ernest Renton.

Other performances of special praise are the clever character studies of thoe representing members of the jury and clients of Sherlock Holmes. These include the Ali ot Mr. Kendall Luxton; the talkative Mr. Armitage of Mr. Sydney W. Coomber; the cunning waster Montague of Mr. Edwin Feis; the gentleman blackmailer, Milverton, of Mr. Ernest Peall; the coroner's officer of Mr. J. Gibson; the racy Holt Loaming of Mr. Montague Heasman; the Billy of Master Alec Balls, and Dr. Watson of Mr. Frank Andrews.

The proceeds of these performances are to be devoted to tho equipment fund of the Streatham Volunteer Corps, Mr. Francis G. H. Tate is the business manager for the company.

Sir Conan Doyle, who remained till the close, complimented the players on their work, which, he said, he had enjoyed.

The usual matinee will be given on Saturday.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's speech, delivered after the performance of Waterloo, was as follows:—

I am very pleased that my two plays should be played for recruiting purposes, especially if played so admirably as the first piece, Waterloo. I understand that one object of these performances is to buy rifles for the S.V.T.C.

At present there are at least 400,000 volunteers who are entitled to wear the red brassards, soon there will be hundreds of thousands more. But we have no rifles except those we buy ourselves.

The Government is not to blame; we volunteers form the last line of defence, and we can only be served after others. At present without rifles we feel rather like playing at soldiers. Some people thing it quite the right thing to criticise and poke fun at the Volunteers. Only a year or so ago the same thing happened as regards the Territorials. Now they are in the front line, standing up to soldiers supposed to be the best in Europe. As the Territorials have done so well I am confident that the Volunteers - if called upon - would do equally unexpected things.

I have complete confidence that if the war lasts the Volunteers will have a chance in France after all. The Germans now are using the Landsturm to garrison the whole of Belgium. I cannot see why our Volunteers should not be similarly used. I am certain that a British man of fifty is a precious sight better than a German of fifty.

Volunteers here might well be used to relieve Regulars, and in that way we may be of real service. But further than this, I feel confident that out of, say, half a million of Volunteers, more than a half would volunteer for active foreign service, but it must, of course, be on a volunteer basis.

The Stage, Thursday 6 May 1915
found at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk