Holmes Alone! (NZ)

BATS Theatre, Wellington

08/10/2010 - 08/10/2010

Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

27/04/2010 - 01/05/2010

Hamilton gardens, Victorian Garden Conservatory, Hamilton

24/02/2012 - 25/02/2012

NZ Improv Festival 2010

NZ International Comedy Festival 2010

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2012

Production Details

He’s clueless… and only YOU can help! 
Audiences get a show that is uniquely their own when master improviser Greg Ellis spins a madcap tale of mystery, melodrama and murder, finally revealing “the truth” about Sherlock Holmes. Using suggestions, obstacles and ‘clues’ provided by the audience, each performance is a one-of-a-kind theatrical tightrope walk, never before seen, and never to be repeated.  
Alone on stage Greg must populate Victorian London using only a devilish imagination, a lightning-quick wit and a homemade degree in English History. Juggling a colourful cast and a convoluted story Greg needs all the help he can get, so willing audience members may find themselves deputised as fellow detectives or interrogated as suspicious characters.
A down-the-rabbit-hole version of the super sleuth we think we know, told in the uniquely interactive style of one of Wellington’s most talented entertainers.
With twenty years as performer and company director of The Improvisors, the capital’s premier corporate entertainment company, Greg Ellis is arguably Wellington’s most-seen actor. Tens of thousands of people at functions, events and theatrical shows of all kinds have roared with laughter over the years as Greg and his team brought comedy chaos to their party.
Improv has taken Greg all over the world, as a professional comedian and Theatresports athlete. He has represented New Zealand at both Commonwealth and World Cup level.
Holmes Alone! is Greg’s personal contribution to The Improvisors 20th anniversary season, and follows his nationally toured improv shows Geezers, and Antiques Roadshow.

Holmes Alone!
Dates: Tues 27 April – Sat 1 May 2010, 9.30pm
Venue: Circa Two, 1 Taranaki St, City
Tickets: Adults $18, Conc $15
Booking: Circa Theatre 04 801 7992 or circatheatre@circa.co.nz 

NZ Improv Festival 2010
Fri 8 Oct, 6.30pm
Show Duration: 1 hour 


Holmes Alone! won Greg’s the “NOW!” Award at the 2010 New Zealand Improv Festival, and follows his nationally toured improv shows Geezers, and Antiques Roadshow.




Holmes Alone!


Victorian Garden Observatory
24 and 25 February 2012 at 6pm 
Tickets: $20 / $15 
Show duration: 1 hour  



Music: Robbie Ellis
Lights operator: Gareth Ruck
Lighting design: Isaac Heron   

Artisic Director – Derek Flores
Producer – Merrilee McCoy
Musician – Robbie Ellis
Lighting – Darryn Woods

55 mins, no interval

Inventiveness, wit and energy

Review by Mark Houlahan 27th Feb 2012

Greg Ellis’s one man show is deceptively titled. We do get a one man show, but it does not, directly, feature the great Sherlock. Rather his sidekick, John Watson, for once, gets to be the main man.

The venue is absolutely apt. The Victorian Conservatory hosts, under glass, exactly the kind of tropical plants you can imagine in a country estate in the Home Counties. It’s not the most dramatic and inventive of the gardens in the Hamilton Gardens complex, but its lush plants provide a beautiful and restful place to sit and be entertained.

The piece begins with an oddly dressed man chatting to strangers in the audience. He draws wary replies from those around him. Whether because they think he is slightly deranged or because they sense he is the ‘talent’, and anything you say might be used against you in performance, it’s hard to tell.

At 6pm on a Friday night, and with the space only half full, the audience spends the rest of the time not quite warming up. Ellis does his best, but despite his inventiveness, the evening never quite takes off.

The conceit is that Holmes, having been billed, has not turned up, as yet another dose of opium has taken hold. Watson manfully steps into the breach. He of course wrote down all the Holmes adventures, so is perfectly well placed to recount an unpublished Holmes case. Ellis tells this tale, playing Watson, Holmes and all the other characters in turn.

Key elements in the story (as in theatre sports) are suggested by the audience. Here the tepid crowd is least helpful, suggesting not very imaginative or whacky elements for Ellis to work with. However, Ellis battles gamely, kindling considerable life from what is literally a ‘shaggy dog’ tale – The Tale of the Big Dog – weaving the suggested elements into a pre-determined frame.

The improvised result is a combination of story-telling, acting and stand up comedy. A tale from the Victorian era allows considerable space for commentary on the current state of cricket, and the unlovely taste of local beer. Perhaps Ellis needs a bit more research on local obsessions, as the beer jokes come too readily, and this does not look much like a beer drinking crowd.

This was the first of three shows in Hamilton so I would imagine the ‘localness’ would sharpen in the next two.

Holmes Alone is an idea that travels well, and Ellis’s wit, energy and love for Sherlock’s world carry him through. Next time Holmes doesn’t appear in your neighbourhood, it would be worth seeking him out, to see Watson step in and save the day, again.


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Much laughter at lots of entertaining twaddle

Review by Maryanne Cathro 09th Oct 2010

We are so lucky that Greg Ellis has reprised his one man show for the Improv Festival. A solo show bobbing alone in a sea of collaborative performances, Ellis really is Holmes Alone. Or Watson, as it transpires, since Holmes himself does a no-show and poor Watson – Ellis in a deliciously absurd Norfolk suit, is left to entertain the capacity crowd.

He is a nice man who doesn’t feel he can send us out into the inclement weather, and does his best to recreate the story by himself, in spite of the fact that “he has no knowledge of stagecraft, being a medical man.”

I can see the obvious pros and cons of solo improv. On the one hand, one has more control and there is no need to track the actions of your team and try to catch the proverbial ball; on the other hand it means that the audience are far more involved. Instead of the usual two or three audience contributions to the initial idea, the audience are prompted for inputs throughout the tale, from the periodical Holmes is reading in the carriage to the sounds the villain is overheard to make while making lurve.

Throughout the show, Ellis is captivating – playing every character himself, he has us laughing at him, with him and in spite of him. The plot is satisfyingly complex and resolves itself quite rationally – the advantage of the one man show with a tight premise. As far as I could recall, not one loose end was left in the Case of the Shrinking Swordfish, which involved Buddhist monks based in Cheswick, a pregnant woman, a brothel, a ginger gardener who persisted in snapping his fingers and, well really, a lot of twaddle albeit entertaining twaddle! 

Ellis captures the cadence, details and pace of Victorian England credibly, and really knows his Holmes and Watson. They are definitely not the ones recently portrayed by Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, but drawn from the older traditions. Even Mrs Hudson gets a mention.

We can but hope that Greg Ellis brings Watson’s story-telling to the stage again in the future, as this one is well worth a revisit. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


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Sparks off audience from solid grasp of source material and vernacular

Review by Hannah Smith 29th Apr 2010

A one man hour long improv show is an ambitious project, and I must admit that beforehand I had concerns regarding how on earth it was going to work. My fears were needless. Greg Ellis is as excellent an improviser as Sherlock Holmes is a detective.

With prompted suggestions from the audience providing clues, tricks, and turns he (and we) set out to solve a hitherto undisclosed Holmes and Watson mystery – last night it was The Case of The Big Enormous Yellow Shaky Banana.

Ellis gets a lot of mileage out of the limitations of the one-man show – the way he deals with entrances, exits and swift exchange of dialogue is very funny and satisfying. I particularly enjoyed the initial set up in which Dr Watson roams the theatre hunting for an AWOL Holmes.

Where usually improvisers spark off each other, Ellis has only the audience to turn to. He cleverly incorporates almost all of our suggestions, although a couple fall by the wayside and some seem to be used perfunctorily in the next couple of lines of dialogue. This is fair enough though; it seems an effective strategy for weeding out audience suggestions with little scope for story.

There is a healthy respect for the source material, Ellis has a solid grasp of the vernacular and provides plenty of little details for those familiar with the goings on at 221B Baker St. 

And for those who do not know much about Mr Holmes the story is plenty satisfying.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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