Full Circle by Maurice Breslow
This unique Holmes advnture is based on facts and chronology in the life of Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes.
London, 1893. A seance is in progress in the darkened study of Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Present, in addition to Doyle, are his wife Louise (“Touie”) and John Horstead, who is conducting the seance. Doyle is trying to reach his late father about a matter of great importance, but something goes horribly wrong. Out of the shadows, seen only by a terrified Doyle, come Holmes and Watson themselves. The seance is shattered. Doyle and the others flee the room, leaving only a confused Holmes and Watson, wondering how they got there, and why. From papers on his desk, they surmise that this man Doyle is about to commit a murder, and that the intended victim is his wife. Bit by bit, however, it becomes evident to us (though not to Holmes or Watson) that the intended victim is Holmes himself (and consequently Watson). Their demise will take place in the story Doyle is currently writing— “The Final Problem”—in which he intends to end the Holmes series by killing off the great detective. It was to get his blessing for this act that Doyle (who was indeed a spiritualist) was trying to reach his father.
Doyle returns to the study and, unaware of Holmes’s and Watson’s invisible presence in the room (‘out of mind, out of sight,’ as one of the characters will later say), continues work on the story. Holmes and Watson, being only creatures of Doyle’s imagination, do not realize who or what he is, or what he is up to. As Doyle writes on, Holmes and Watson grow weaker and weaker, unable to fathom what is happening to them. At last Doyle nears the culminating moment in the story. Holmes, by now sensing that his growing weakness is somehow connected to what Doyle is doing, struggles to deter him. He cannot. He passes out. End of Act One.
When Act Two opens, Doyle is not in the room. Holmes is reviving, attended by Watson and a woman we have not seen before. We soon come to realize it’s the same actress who played Horstead in the opening scene. But now she plays Irene Adler, main character of a previous Doyle story, “A Scandal in Bohemia,” and the only woman Holmes ever fell in love with. She is attractive, she is brilliant, and she is no-nonsense. She has been delegated by her fellow Doyle characters to cross into Doyle’s world and somehow stop him from completing “The Final Problem,” for the death of the Holmes series will mean their death as well. That is why, as Horstead at the seance, she summoned Holmes and Watson. At last Holmes comes to understand that his and Watson’s world is not the “real” world of Doyle, but a world of their own, the imagined world where fictional characters live. They must now devise a plan to get Doyle to abandon his scheme to dispose of Holmes. It involves a second seance, both suspenseful and comedic, in which Holmes, in characteristic method, employs disguise: as Doyle’s father. It succeeds. Doyle is persuaded to leave Holmes’s death uncertain, give Holmes (and himself) a holiday, and at some future time bring the great detective back alive. All of which he actually did.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Year Printed: 2018
Running Time: 2 hours
Female Cast: 2
Male Cast: 3