REVIEW: Sherlock Holmes at Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens

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Four men going crazy on a very small stage in front of a very big crowd - how much fun can that be?

Well as luck would have it for everyone who turned out to see The Pantaloons’ latest it was so much fun you can hardly imagine, writes Nancy Fielder.

In large part that is due to the fact that all four of them are brilliant actors, quick to snap back with audience participation and adapt to whatever a not-very-sunny night in the Botanical Gardens might throw at them.

Along the way this even included noisy neighbours but these actors are happy to dance along to pretty much every tune.

We weren’t sure which of the many Baker Street mysteries we were attending before it started.

It turned out that’s because this was a combination of several Sherlock Holmes tales wrapped into one.

Of course, they couldn’t resist including the Hound of the Baskervilles but then with the cacophony of animal noises we’d already experienced how could they not?

We lost count of how many characters they play between them - old women, crazy uncles, cheetahs, criminal geniuses, victims and cops to name but a few. Of course, the main pair were always going to be Holmes and Watson - one slightly wild-eyed as you would hope.

There were plenty of human sound effects, cheering, clapping, singing and twists in the tales.

Heroes, villains and a detective who is dazzlingly clever yet delightfully strange.

Certainly something for everyone and my children really enjoyed it - as did their granny.

The evening flew past, helped by a picnic, as you would expect, and we could have sat through it all again without any problem.

Top marks to great acting, good script work and a dollop of fun.

You can’t ask for much more than that on a night out - particularly with such a mixed audience of all ages.

Puns galore too ... many of them muttered more than once on the way home.

There is something wonderful about outdoor theatre, even when the sun isn’t shining.

It captures an atmosphere which you really can’t get anywhere else.

The Pantaloons have 100 per cent encapsulated this magic - just ask anyone is the audience.

There are several more chances to catch plays at various open air Sheffield venues this summer and whatever kind of drama you like you would be daft not to give it a try.