Theatre Review: Move Over Moriarty – Sale Waterside Arts Centre

Move Over Moriarty by Lipservice at Sale Waterside Arts

Fast-paced, slick and funny, Move Over Moriarty makes a welcome return to the stage

Following the success of Inspector Norse and Withering Looks, satirical comedy duo LipService return as Holmes and Watson in a reprisal of their cult classic Move Over Moriarty.

Written by Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding, Move Over Moriarty follows super sleuth Sherlock Holmes and his dim sidekick John Watson as they investigate the Garibaldi Biscuit Affair, a case as impenetrable as a London pea-souper. Fear stalks the backstage corridors of The Strand Theatre as acts are murdered by an invisible hand. First performed in 1998, Move Over Moriarty has grown to become a cult classic among LipService fans and has been reprised as part of their 30th anniversary season.

Slick, comical and splendidly silly, LipService are on top form in this out-and-out spoof of Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary detective. This inventive mock murder mystery pokes fun at the pomposity of the super sleuth with its affectionate satire, witty interplay and silly storyline. There’s plenty of deliberate over-emoting, knowing looks to the audience, wandering moustaches and inventive chase sequences to keep the audience laughing, all delivered with freshness and enthusiasm.

As with previous LipService productions, what makes Move Over Moriarty so funny is how Fox and Ryding deliver a 90 minute comedy play with just two people. The award-winning comedy duo play at least half a dozen characters each, shouting the lines of an offstage character behind their hands and frantically changing from frock to frock coat with deliberate comic effect. Fox shines as the hat-wearing, pipe-smoking and French knitting detective Sherlock Holmes but Ryding easily gets the biggest laughs is the detective’s devotedly steady yet rather dim, sidekick John Watson.

Kate Owen’s inventive set deserves a mention, cleverly folding and rotating to change location from the drawing room of 221B Baker Street to the music hall of the Strand Theatre stage and the deepest, darkest moors of Dartmoor.

While there are plenty of stand-out comedic moments, the show isn’t without its flaws. The deliberate jumble of stories and characters do not really add up to a coherent plot and occasionally, the gags feel a little repetitive and laboured. The action also loses momentum in the closing minutes of the first half but quickly picks back up in the second half as the pair crack the case and unveil the killer.

If you’re a fan of LipService’s other works, you’re sure to enjoy Move Over Moriarty. Fast-paced, slick and funny, this cult classic makes a welcome return to the stage and is as entertaining as ever.

Runs until 23 January 2016

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