Sherlock Holmes and The American Problem

Sep 28 – Nov 11
Gilliam Stage at Barter Theatre

*This production includes the use of pyrotechnics and gunshots.

Inspired by the Works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

By R. Hamilton Wright

Sherlock Holmes is back on the Barter Theatre stage with a new adventure. It’s Queen Victoria’s 50th year on the British Throne and Annie Oakley is the toast of London with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Extravaganza. Join the chase full of mystery, suspense, deceit and brilliant deductions as Victorian England is smashed together with the Wild West in a case that only Sherlock Holmes can unravel.

Download study guide.

Director's Notes

When Arthur Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes, the world was in desperate need of him. The Industrial Revolution had been grinding away long enough for us to see that it had its consequences: children were suffering in terrible working conditions, soot and smog blocked out the sun for months on end, organized crime was blossoming underneath all of that darkness... People needed someone who could look through the smog and see that things were still ‘elementary’ if you knew which things to look at and which to ignore. Sherlock was the perfect human machine— his brain was the celebration of all we had learned from the mechanization of the world, and simultaneously, the antidote to it.

Consequently, people were mad for him then, and we are still mad for him today. Like the Victorians, we see how fast the world is moving, how exponentially more complicated things feel, and how technology, for all its wonders, can sometimes feel just beyond our ability to control it. We continue to read these books and to crave new Sherlock stories on our movie and TV screens – there’s even a time honored tradition of asserting that he actually lived. The Sherlock museum in London at 221B Baker Street is set up to look like he really lived there, down to the tiniest detail. (Google it and you can take a wonderful 3D tour of the premises.) People celebrate his birthday. Stories and fan lit often feature actual historical characters that would have lived at the same time he did. Our play today lives in that vein.

In 1887, Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show truly appeared in London. It was Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, and people from all over the world who had descended on the city to celebrate were dazzled by gunfights, tricks on horseback, bison and the world famous Annie Oakley. The dust kicked up by this outdoor-prototype-rodeo mixed with the London fog and the crush of tourists to create an excellent cover for crime in London. What would Sherlock do—or if we want to be true Sherlock lovers—what did Sherlock do to solve a dangerous mystery in the midst of this wild and exciting time? How did he see through the dust and fog and cheering throng to what really mattered? That’s what we’ll discover today as we go with Sherlock on his most difficult case yet: The American Problem.

Katy Brown

Director, Sherlock Holmes and the American Problem

Cast & Credits

Cast (In Order of Appearance):

Crofter/ Red Hook/ et al: Andrew Hampton Livingston
Sherlock Holmes: Justin Tyler Lewis
Phoebe Anne Moses, Young American: Annie Simpson
The Pinkerton, American Detective: Nick Koesters
Charlotte Lichter, American Mining Engineer: Paris Bradstreet
Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's Older Brother: Josh Levinson
The American Ambassador/ Dubby/ et al: Taylor Marrs
John Watson: Zacchaeus Kimbrell
Mrs. Hudson: Mary Lucy Bivins
Jefferson Henry/ Lieutenant Fleming: Ryan Featherstone
"Mayhem" Maggie Malloy, American Criminal: Holly Anne Williams
Major Thaddeus Isaac Ramsey, Army Tutor: Michael Poisson


Director: Katy Brown
Set Designer: Hana Lee Goff
Costume Designer: Howard Tsvi Kaplan
Lighting Designer: Andrew Morehouse
Dialect Coach: Zacchaeus Kimbrell
Wig and Prosthetic Designer: Whitney Kaibel
Assistant Stage Manager: Victoria L. Sutton
Stage Manager: Sara Douglas

Special Thanks to Dr. Bob Gilmer for sharing his knowledge of period medical practices.

Corporate Sponsors
3B Consulting Services, LLC

Media Sponsor