Event: Exclusive theatre evening in honour of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 155th Birthday

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Event: To celebrate Sir Arthur Conan Doyle turning the grand age of 155 an evening was planned to celebrate his most iconic character, Sherlock Holmes.

Who: Hosted by the Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes and in order to raise awareness and money for both The National Literacy Trust and Undershaw Preservation Trust.

When: On his birthday obviously, Thursday 22nd May 2014

Where: Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes located quite aptly on Baker Street

Refreshments:

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I’m not 100% sure you can see from the photo of the menu but the Sherlock Holmes afternoon tea included:

Tier 1: Sandwiches: Cheddar and pickle, roast beef and horseradish, smoked salmon and lemon cream, cucumber and dill.

Tier 2: Scones (oh glorious scones!): 1 plain scone and 1 fruit scone with clotted cream.

Tier 3: Cakes comprising of: Pimms & strawberry cheesecake, lemon & poppy seed sponge, treacle tart and a Victoria sponge.

NB: I feel I should note I didn’t eat all of this by myself I got them to package it away discreetly in a doggy bag!

Then it was onto the canapés:

Mini (I say mini they were quite sizeable) fish and chips in a cone, dates wrapped in bacon, croque monsieur with a quail egg, sausage rolls, a soup, a turkey piece wrapped in bacon and a couple of others that alluded me.

Freebies: Aside from the entire evening?…

Review:

I arrived at the Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes for 5.30pm for the exclusive Sherlock Holmes themed afternoon tea. I didn’t realise it was afternoon tea for one but I was duly escorted to my comfy leather chair and enjoyed first class care and attention. The dining room was shared only by a pair of well-to-do ladies, one of whom was sporting a magnificent hat, I was later to learn she was the wife of one of the Sherlockian authors present that evening, no wonder their conversational topics spanned from the Romanov dynasty to Einstein – yes I was eavesdropping.

During my afternoon of sandwich nibbling and gin swigging, Maria, the PR Executive, Europe, Middle East & Africa for PPHE Hotel Group, came over and introduced herself explaining the layout of the evening and also talking me through my sandwiches. The afternoon tea had been designed by the Park Plaza kitchen team who were keen to bring alive the spirit of the Victorian period. She also introduced me to Steve Emcez, the lead man at MX Publishing who was responsible for much of the evening’s talent.

In Steve’s capable hands I was taken on a whirlwind tour of Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle. Being the UK’s leading NLP and Victorian Literature Publishers, they offered a lending library of a number of their author catalogue to the Park Plaza spanning Sherlock Holmes inspired graphic novels to the more fantastical outings of Doyle’s fans.

I was introduced to Luke Kuhns author of such Sherlock Holmes graphic novels as Sherlock Holmes and the Horror of Frankenstein , he’s currently working on his next full-blown graphic novel totalling 90 pages of Sherlock in Technicolor glory.

By 6.30pm the evening proper was beginning and the room was filling up fast with fans, authors and members of the Undershaw trust mingling around each other. After my afternoon tea I wasn’t sure I could cope with canapés, that was until they came out and I realised what they were, mini fish and chips? Yes please. Croque Monsieur with a quail egg? Why the devil not? All washed down with a ‘Scandal in Bohemia’ gin martini…or three.

No birthday would have been complete without a rousing rendition of the birthday song attributed to ‘Sir Arthur,’ not Arty as I would like to believe he would have preferred, the cake, a magnificent feat of baking by the Park Plaza Sherlock Homes kitchen and pictured above, was cut and handed out before we were ushered downstairs to commence the theatrical entertainment.

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The evening’s entertainment was brought to the revellers by ‘Don’t go into the cellar’ who market themselves as, Victorian Theatre with Bite! The one man show entitled ‘The Singular Exploits of Sherlock Holmes,’ was acted with tremendous aplomb by the talented Jonathan Goodwin with technical and stage support in the guise of Gary Archer. Throughout the hour-long play we were treated to the well-known characters of not only Sherlock but Moriarty, Myroft and the stealer of scandal Milverton.

Cast your eyes to the left for a glance of Goodwin in full character.

The final act of the evening was a Skype link up with a mirror-image party taking place in Florida, the reason behind this was to get involved with a live Q&A with bestseller and award-winning author Diane about her latest novel ‘The Conan Doyle Notes – The Secret of Jack The Ripper’, talking from her world book launch.

Unfortunately, as all best laid plans when it comes to technology actually working there was a couple of hiccups relating to microphones and videos, however, we did get to hear a little about her latest foray into writing and although this didn’t contain Sherlock in the novel his methods and presence within the pages was very much alive and well.

As 9.30pm signalled the end of what was a not so elementary evening (sorry!) it was time to head home. A massive thank you to not only the Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes but also MX Publishing for hosting such a wonderfully entertaining event. Plus with profits going to The National Literacy Trust and The Undershaw Preservation Trust it was truly a worthwhile evening for all those in attendance.

Rating: 7 out of 10

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