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Nigel Miles Thomas: Sherlock Holmes The Last Act

By | Published on Wednesday 2 August 2023

Nigel Miles Thomas performed in ‘The Return Of Sherlock Holmes’ last Fringe, and this year returns with ‘Sherlock Holmes The Last Act’.

This one is a solo piece written by Conan Doyle expert David Stuart Davies which sees Holmes late in life recalling past adventures, along the way exposing the great detective’s fears and weaknesses.

I was keen to find out more about the play, so sent some questions over to Nigel – a true Fringe veteran – to find out more.

CM: Can you start by telling us about the narrative of ‘The Last Act’?
NMT: The play, written by David Stuart Davies, tells the story of Sherlock Holmes who – now retired and living in Sussex – returns to London for the funeral of Dr Watson. Alone in 221b Baker Street, he recalls their wonderful adventures and also reveals a shocking secret.

CM: What themes does it explore?
NMT: It explores the themes of what goes unsaid in life, the pain of Sherlock’s childhood, and his reliance on drugs.

CM: It sounds a bit different from most Sherlock Holmes adaptations, in taking a closer look at his psyche? Where did the impetus to create this kind of show come from?
NMT: The playwright is a leading expert on Holmes and has used the play to dig deep into Sherlock’s psyche to help audiences discover the dark side of the character and what might explain his personality.

CM: How does this compare to your previous show ‘The Return Of Sherlock Holmes’?
NMT: The play is now a solo performance, the end of life, Dr Watson has died and I portray Sherlock close to his own death. ‘The Return Of Sherlock Holmes’ was set prior to ‘The Hound Of The Baskervilles’, which is perhaps his greatest case.

CM: It’s a solo show, but I understand we’ll be meeting fourteen characters?
NMT: Yes, I play all the other characters in the play, reflecting on his life from childhood.

CM: Can you tell us a bit more about the writer of the piece, David Stuart Davies?
NMT: As I mentioned, David Stuart Davies is an expert on Sherlock Holmes and all things Conan Doyle. He has published several novels and writes regularly for The Sherlock Holmes Society. He is welcomed all over the world with his association to the great detective.

CM: You’ve performed at the Fringe before, of course – how do you feel about going back?
NMT: I am delighted to be returning to the Fringe for the 27th time. My first visit was in 1979 with The Cherub Company in ‘The Two Noble Kinsmen’. I believe this year will be a return to the good old days of vibrant performances and audiences with restored confidence post-COVID.

CM: What will you be doing during the Festival when you are not performing?
NMT: Edinburgh brings the joy of seeing old friends and seeing as many shows as possible. I now live in Edinburgh so I can escape home to recharge.

CM: What do you love about being at the Fringe?
NMT: I love being at the Fringe because of the incredible diversity of shows and performers. A truly international festival with endless possibilities.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about your past, now? How did you come to be working in the arts?
NMT: I have been in the theatre since leaving school and training at The Arts Educational Schools in London. A theatre in education company came to my comprehensive school in Wembley and spotted talent in a boy who only wanted to play cricket.

CM: What have been the highlights of your career thus far?
NMT: I have been fortunate to have travelled the world with plays, performed a leading role in London’s West End, worked for Steven Berkoff and directed Zsa Zsa Gabor in Hollywood’s first pantomime. Oh and I have been in ‘Dr Who’ as Pudovkin!

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this? What aims and ambitions do you have for the future?
NMT: I am taking ‘The Last Act’ to Beijing and Thailand in the autumn and hope for success at this year’s Fringe to open many more doors.

‘Sherlock Holmes The Last Act’ was performed at theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall at Edinburgh Festival 2023.

LINKS: fringemanagement.co.uk