‘Sherlock flipped’: Introducing UW–Madison’s summer production, ‘Ms. Holmes and Ms. Watson — Apt 2B’

By Sofie Schachter

Monday through Friday nights, and sometimes even Saturdays, one wandering around the basement of UW–Madison’s Vilas Hall may hear joyous laughter, shouting, crying, or even sounds of fighting drifting through the hallways. With a peek into a non-descript rehearsal room, a small crew can be seen as the culprit of the noise. The six cast members for UW–Madison’s summer play rehearse for “Ms. Holmes and Ms. Watson — Apt 2B” for four hours every weeknight, joined by their guest director, Emily Rollie, and other members of the production team.

The Department of Theatre and Drama, housed in the School of Education, is doing a season of female-identified playwrights, according to Rollie. The summer selection is a queer, feminist adaption of the classic Sherlock Holmes.

The cast does a check-in before starting rehearsal. (Photo: Sirtaj Grewal)

It’s “both holding up this homage to Sherlock, but then also playing with it in a contemporary context and commenting on the very gendered nature of the original, which is so fun,” Rollie says. “It’s Sherlock, but flipped.”

Rollie, who grew up in Minnesota but now lives in Washington, is guest directing this year’s summer play, and the six cast members couldn’t be happier.

The cast practices falling. (Photo: Sirtaj Grewal)

“Guest directors can be pretty hit or miss,” says cast member Nicky Chier. “But pretty much from the first moment there was clearly a vision; a respect for everybody.”

Sophia Schmidt, who plays Sherlock Holmes, adds, “I always really appreciate working with a guest director because, since we are a relatively small theatre department, it allows us to have fresh experiences more often.”

Schmidt continues: “I have really enjoyed working with Emily specifically, because I feel like it’s a very respectful and safe space, which is good as an artist because it allows us to really focus on the art we are making without worrying too much about if we are uncomfortable.”

Sophia Schmidt, Sophia Whitehead, and Fight Director Whitney Derendinger (Photo: Sirtaj Grewal)

The cast’s positive feelings towards Rollie are returned. “They’re all deeply invested in the play,” Rollie says. They have to be, given the demanding rehearsal schedule.

“It feels like a school show in the best way,” Chier adds.

The play itself is fast-paced, comedic, and mysterious, according to members of the production. The play’s description says that “oddball female roommates Sherlock Holmes & Joan Watson join forces to emerge from pandemic fog as a deeply codependent, quasi-dysfunctional Odd Couple adventure duo—solving mysteries and kicking butts, until they come face to face with a villain who seems to have all of the answers.”

Fight Director Whitney Derendinger and Nicky Chier (Photo: Sirtaj Grewal)

“You don’t have to be a big fan of theatre to see this,” says cast member Megan Tennessen. “It’s very entertaining.”

Whether you are the world’s biggest Sherlock fan or have never heard of him, it’s an exciting, chaotic, and fun experience.

“Sherlock is a woman, but she’s still Sherlock Holmes,” Schmidt says. “You can expect to see the Sherlock and Watson that you love, but also be exposed to a new story and environment.”

The show will run from July 27 to Sept. 24. Full price tickets are $26, with students, UW–Madison faculty members, children, and seniors getting discounted rates. If coming as a duo, use the code ELEMENTARY for a steeper discount. Purchase tickets here.

Pin It on Pinterest