Full Circle by Maurice Breslow
Background: Midway in his writing career, Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, decided he'd written his fill of Holmes stories, so he set out to end the series by killing off his detective in a final story. That much is fact.
The play: London. 1893. A séance in the home of Arthur Conan Doyle, physician and writer, is attempting to reach Doyle’s deceased father. Instead, it conjures up the Doyle characters Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Seeking clues to how they came to be in this place, they discover that this Dr. Doyle is plotting a murder. What they don’t realize is that the intended victim is Holmes himself. They also don’t realize that they are literary characters, Doyle’s creations, and exist not in the real world, but only in that of Doyle’s stories. When Doyle, working on the story that is to do in Holmes, approaches its fateful moment, Holmes grows increasingly weaker, and passes out. Enter Irene Adler, character in another of the Holmes stories. She is brilliant, she is beautiful, she is no-nonsense. She knows what is what, and leads Holmes and Watson to grasp the true nature of their existence and the mortal danger they are in. The three set out to thwart Doyle’s plan, which they do through a brilliant ruse that closes the play as it began: with a séance full of surprises.
This Pirandello-like mystery/comedy lives on the border between the real world and the world of literary creation, and entertains even as it challenges the imagination with the question of what is real and what is not.
Keywords: Sherlock Holmes, mystery/comedy, real vs imaginary