by Arthur Conan Doyle – adapted by James Nicholas
On returning to London after been invalided out of the army, little does Dr John Watson know that the simple act of renting a room in Baker Street would lead him into an underground world of crime, violence and mystery.
A Study in Scarlet is the first time that we are introduced to Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic detective, Sherlock Holmes.
Watson accompanies Holmes to an abandoned house on Brixton Road, South London where a body has been discovered, its face hideously contorted. A single word is written on the wall in blood. Watson is as perplexed as the police but Holmes uses his now famous analytical skills to launch onto the trail of the killer.
Cast (alphabetical Order)
Tim Atkinson – Inspector Lestrade, Jefferson Hope (and others)
Emma Sian Cooper – Stamford, Rance, Mrs Hudson (and others)
James Nicholas – Sherlock Holmes
Alex Nikitas – Dr John Watson
Originally from Worcester, Tim studied with the National Youth Theatre and Birmingham School of Acting, graduating in 2016 with a 1st. The past five years have seen him performing around the world, from European Theatres to Aviation Conferences in China, to the assembly halls of Britain’s primary and secondary schools. Major credits include Dracula (European Tour), Doctors (BBC), Macbeth (The Young Shakespeare Company), Version 2.0 (Leicester Square Theatre), and Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Dell at the RSC).
In 2017 he joined the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s resident theatre company ‘Shakespeare Aloud!’ And went on to perform in a number of special projects with them including a devised piece called “I Never Liked Shakespeare” “I don’t like Shakespeare” or “Shakespeare is Everywhere” (It had a lot of different names) with former Midlands Poet Laureate Roy MacFarlane.
He’s also a workshop facilitator and has delivered sessions in venues as diverse as HMP Pentonville Prison.
In 2020, Tim served as an associate producer for Will&Co’s new lockdown theatre project ‘Bard In The Yard’ and continues to drop in and out of the project, offering help and advice when needed. He was a founding member of the Community Acts in 2021, a company running workshops online to create a sense of community and connection throughout quarantine.
Tim’s work also encompasses a career as a voice actor. This summer he voiced a series of explainer videos sent to every ticket holder of the Common Wealth Games.
When not acting, Tim spends most of his time looking for ‘jobs’ in London to give him an excuse to see his girlfriend there; but he is delighted to be performing back in Birmingham!
Emma Sian Cooper
Emma is a writer, actor, and storyteller. She has previously appeared for Blue Orange Arts in The Hound of the Baskervilles, Frankenstein, and Macbeth and is thrilled to explore another gothic tale in a Study in Scarlet.
She is also co-director of the theatre company Tell-Tale with which she creates and performs in a number of immersive productions for historic venues and events including Uncle Richard for the reinterment of Richard III in 2015, Not Just William for Shakespeare 400, 1914-18 Local News (Tour for the centenary of WW1) and What have the Brownies Ever Done for Us? for the Brownies centenary celebration.
Previous roles elsewhere include Queen Victoria (Various productions / Tour), Cate (Blasted, Warwick Arts Centre), Cathy Earnshaw (Wuthering Heights tour), Puck (Broughton Castle), Pinocchio (Mill Arts Centre), and Tess Baker (Better Things, Film 4)
Recent theatre roles include: `The Hound of the Baskervilles’, ‘Wind in the Willows, ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘Wizard of Oz, ‘The 39 Steps’, ‘Frankenstein’, ‘Dr. Faustus’ and ‘Edward II’ (all Blue Orange Arts, Birmingham); ‘18 Victoria’ (Root & Branch/Lawrence Batley/Square Chapel/GM Fringe – Winner Best New Play), ‘Please Stop the Dark’ and ‘The Order of Disorder’ (LouDeemy Productions); ‘Uncle Richard’ (TellTale Presents); Ugly Sister in ‘Cinderella’ (Panto Ever After/Viaduct Theatre, Halifax); and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Workshop Theatre, Leeds). James played Geoff in the feature film ‘Happy Little Bunnies’ (Rotten Park Road Films) and was nominated for Best Supporting Performance for ‘Frankenstein’ at Edinburgh Fringe in 2019. Most recently James has been seen as Israel Hands in the continuing web series, ‘I Hands: A Life Less Lived’ and ‘Hands on Film’.
As a writer, James has written several plays including ‘He’d Murder Me’ and ‘Mirror, Mirror’, and has adapted ‘The Signalman’ for Blue Orange Arts/Edinburgh Fringe. He is the lead writer for the web-based resource Real Safeguarding Stories and his work has been performed as far away as Vietnam and Seychelles!
A Study In Scarlet marks Alex Nikitas’s second Sherlock Holmes production for Blue Orange Arts following on from 2021’s The Hound Of The Baskervilles. Other Blue Orange credits include Hamlet, The Wind In The Willows, and Peter Pan. He has also recently featured in two award-winning shows for Inamoment Theatre. In addition, he has played both an accountant and a terrorist in Arrivals & Departures at the Coach House Theatre, Malvern for Here To There. Earlier work includes Doctors (BBC TV), The Romantics (BBC Radio 4) and Pontius Pilate in A Passion For Birmingham (Old Joint Stock 2014- 2016). He is also a storyteller and writer, specializing in adapting Greek myths and English fairy tales for performance, and has co-written three plays for children focussing on community/environmental themes, including Down To Earth which was funded as part of a project by Creative Partnerships Black Country.
Directed by – Oliver Hume
Produced by – Mark Webster
Lighting/Sound by – Nathan Bower (with assistance from Michael Harris, Steve Thomas, Kaz Luckins, Mitchell Dawes)
Costumes/Props by – Simon Ravenhill (with assistance from Ben Mills-Wood)
With thanks to TE121.Entertainment for the loan of additional lighting
Oliver Hume – Director
Oliver has been directing now for 25 years, he started with the Bridge Theatre Company on shows like Teachers, The Pirates of Penzance, and Salad Days, and this year with Heartbreak Productions on Awful Auntie. He’s lost count of the number of shows he’s worked on for Blue Orange Arts, but they include Frankenstein, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 12th Night, The Hound of Baskervilles and Misery.
Director Show Notes
Any show must start with a good script and James Nicholas (Holmes) has really done an excellent job of adapting the original for the stage. The story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is split into two halves with lots of reported action. Plus, there’s a huge backstory, which James managed to condense into 10 minutes in the second half of the play, and of course, he’s Holmes. Energetic, slightly flawed, and wise.
Then there’s Emma Cooper (Lucy et al.). Whenever I have a show which Emma is involved with, I know I’m working with someone who’s got incredibly rich historical knowledge to keep the rest of us in check. On top of this, there’s a wealth of theatrical experience and a fierce desire to make sure all the female characters are real and “not just two-dimensional passive Victorian women” to paraphrase. They might be on stage for only a moment, but you know them, understand them, and feel they have a life off-stage.
Add to these two excellent performers, two more, Alex Nikitas (Watson)who always brings such gentle humanity to every role he portrays (even when it’s a Big Bad Wolf in Grimm’s Fairy Tales), and some new blood Tim Atkinson (Lestrade/Hope et al.) who has daily injected so many new ideas into this production. My job has been to mold these four into a coherent show. It’s been a joy.
As ever when I direct, anything you enjoy is probably them, anything which doesn’t quite work is probably me.