#1 Victorian Ladies Detective Agency

Six years ago, Lifeline Theater unveiled the world premiere of Christopher M. Walsh’s Miss Holmes-a sly gender-bent take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s Baker Street polymath predating the film Enola Holmes with several years (though not Nancy Springer’s young adult series of novels). Now Sherlock of Katie McLean Hainsworth and Dr. Dorothy Watson from Mandy Walsh returns to solve more crimes and cause more shit in the patriarchal colonial cesspool of Victorian London.

As in the first outing, Sherlock and Watson are focused on helping unjust women while risking the wrath of Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft (Christopher Hainsworth), who is a fixer of sorts for the deep state of the British Empire. Although Sherlock is not incarcerated in a mental institution at her brother’s request this time, Mycroft still haunts the edges of the story, setting some key plot developments in motion.

Miss Holmes returns
to 16-10: Fri 19:30, Sat 14:30 and 19:30, Sun 14:30; open subtitles Sat 17-9, 14:30 and Fri 7-10, 19:30; touch tour and audio description Sun 2/10, 2:30 PM (tour starts at 1:00 PM); Lifeline Theater, 6912 N. Glenwood, 773-761-4477, extension. 703, lifelinetheatre.com, $45 ($35 seniors and active/retired military personnel with ID, $15 students with ID)

At the heart of the story, however, is the burgeoning women’s rights movement in England, embodied in push to overturn the Contagious Diseases Act, which allowed the government to detain and investigate any woman accused of prostitution. Were men who visited sex workers held in the same way? You sure are kidding. Did people use the act to take revenge on those women they considered enemies? Yes – and that also provides an important plot point in Walsh’s somewhat convoluted story.

Leave a Comment