Fallen Souffle continues trilogy of Sherlock tales
By Jeff McGinnis
In the spring of 2018, a play entitled Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Wandering Ear opened at the Purple Rose Theatre Company and proved to be a phenomenal success. Its popularity especially pleased the show’s playwright, David MacGregor, whose script was a reimagining and tribute to one of pop culture’s most beloved characters.
“Sherlock Holmes is my favorite fictional character,” MacGregor said. “Kind of the ultimate hero. I mean, he’s not the Rambo, Terminator, Achilles-type of warrior hero. He looks at stuff and tries to figure it out. Tries to make sense of the world. And his expertise is pattern-recognition. That’s what makes human beings, human beings. Our ability to control and manipulate our environment.”
The success of Wandering Ear led to Purple Rose commissioning MacGregor to write two sequels to the show— the first, Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Fallen Souffle, just opened and is currently running through December 21.
“The play is set on the eve of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee,” explains the show’s director Michelle Mountain. “There is mayhem, and possible assassination, and a boxing match, a lots of humor. It’s very funny, it’s lots of fun.”
Though the show is the middle act of a trilogy of plays, both MacGregor and Mountain emphasize that audiences don’t have to have seen the previous play to enjoy Fallen Souffle — all three shows are constructed to be stand-alone experiences outside of their relationship to each other.
“My basic idea was, I want to write a play that has four fictional characters in it, and two historical characters in it,” MacGregor said. “And all three plays have that. They have the same four fictional characters, but they each have two different historical characters in them.”
Many of the performers who brought Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic characters to life in Purple Rose’s original Wandering Ear production have returned for this show. Mountain, who served as the assistant director on Wandering Ear said one of the unique challenges of Fallen Souffle has been encouraging her cast to approach their characters in a new way.
“This play is set nine years later than the first one. No one is the same person that they were nine years ago. And the story’s different, their relationships have deepened,” Mountain said. “That was one of the things, to go, ‘Please don’t do what you did last time. This is a new story, with new stakes.’”
Collaborate and listen
MacGregor frequently attended rehearsals as the new show got underway, and Mountain said she viewed him as a total collaborator in the creative process.
“He is definitely the playwright, but he was open to any cuts or thoughts I had. We had a lengthy discussion on one character and that person’s development, and he said ‘Oh yeah!’ And he went and re-wrote, and we got a bunch of new pages. He’s great to work with,” she said.
“The play on the printed page— that’s not the play. That’s just the blueprint for the play,” MacGregor said.
The third part of the trilogy of plays is slated to open the Purple Rose’s 2020-21 season next fall. Mountain said she hopes audiences find an escape in Fallen Souffle’s journey to the world of pop culture’s greatest detective.
“I have they hope an intellectually stimulating, hilarious good time. One of the ushers was telling me this morning about a woman who stopped her and said how lovely the production was, and how great it was, and also how important it was to laugh right now, because the world is so scary.”
$28-47 | Wednesdays and Saturdays, 3pm
Thursdays through Saturdays, 8pm | Sundays, 2pm
Running through December 21.
137 Park St, Chelsea | 734-433-7673 | purplerosetheatre.org