Monday, 21 January 2013

Sherlock Holmes v Dracula(!)

I like bangers and mash, and so the term 'mashup' appeals to me, though in fact sausages and mashed potatoes are seldom involved. If ever. Anyway, according to Mr Wiki, 'mashup' means 'a work of fiction which combines a pre-existing literature text, often a classic work of fiction, with another genre, such as horror (...) into a single narrative'.

Which brings me, at last, to 'Sherlock Holmes v Dracula', a radio play adapted by from a story by the crime writer Loren D. Estleman. The script is by Glyn Dearman, a former child actor who played Tiny Tim in Scrooge (1951). A supernatural connection! If you can use the BBC iPlayer, the feature-length drama is available for week.

It's very enjoyable, not least because John Moffatt is a great Holmes, and Timothy West delivers pure essence of Watson - all decent English pluck and common sense. Also, this is the married Watson who finds himself torn between loyalty to his friend and the safety of his beloved Mary. Vintage stuff, with all ingredients present and correct - the first few minutes economically take in Whitby, storm, mystery ship, big dog, and general oo-er. Holmes predicts that 'The Adventure of the Foreign Schooner' will make a first-class addition to Watson's 'little collection of thrillers'.

But, while the play makes ideal listening for a dark winter's day, I also found myself wondering what to make of it. Is it a 'mashup'? Well, no, because what we have is a classic genre text reworked to include two characters from classic detective fiction. So it's an intriguing hybrid that gives us the Holmesian method of pure logical deduction with the wonderfully bonkers world of vampirism as defined by Stoker.

Would Holmes 'really' have accepted the supernatural? Some claim that Conan Doyle killed off his most popular character precisely because he couldn't plausibly work spiritualism and the like into the Holmes canon. Sadly, he did force poor Professor Challenger attend a seance in 'The Land of Mist'. I find pitting Holmes against a vampire rather more convincing.

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