By Owen Maxwell

While characters like Ferris Bueller and Deadpool have helped make meta stories popular, Sherlock Holmes was meeting his own author first. That’s the concept behind the Phoenix Players new adaptation of “The Penultimate Problem of Sherlock Holmes” which is playing at the Gladstone Theatre in Little Italy from November 23 to December 1.

The new play, directed by André Dimitrijevic, adapts John Nassivera’s 1980 play, where Holmes meets Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the two enter a game of wits to the death.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time this play has been done in the Ottawa area,” said Dimitrijevic.

Throughout the play viewers will start to question whether Holmes is truly Doyle’s toy or whether it might even be the other way around. His production is staying faithful to the time and mood of the original, with all the costumes and stage tricks to pull you into their world.

Holmes’ story is coming to life via Ottawa’s Phoenix Players, a registered charity aimed at bringing affordable theatre productions to our city. The Players have also made a name for themselves for incorporating everyone from experienced actors and stage-hands to beginners looking to learn and help a production along.  

Along with their artistic ambitions, the cast and crew are contributing ticket sales to the Ottawa Food Bank. To this end, they’ve issued the Bums In Seats, Food In Bellies Challenge, where they’re encouraging fans to purchase over 1,500 tickets over the play’s full run.

It has always been a dream of the Phoenix Players to play to a packed house and sell out tickets, said Dimitrijevic. “So we joined the two goals together—bums in seats equals food in bellies!”

Should they reach their goal, cast member Dr. John Kershman will donate $5,000 to the Food Bank in response. Additionally, for every 100 additional tickets sold, Kershman and Dimitrijevic will collectively donate another $1000 to the cause.

The timing couldn’t be any better either, as the September tornadoes have mostly depleted the Food Bank’s supplies.

The tornadoes inspired us to perform this time for this cause, with Dr. Kershman spearheading this initiative,” says Dimitrijevic. With their help, they’ll be prepared for future efforts while continuing their ongoing support for recovery efforts.

Whether you’re looking for a way to give back or an amazing show experience, “The Penultimate Problem” is promising to deliver Dimitrijevic promises a “Fascinating twist in the second act and an unpredictable ending.”   

Tickets are $20 and people are encouraged to donate directly to the Ottawa Food Bank as well. The Phoenix Players are also welcoming anyone to volunteer and help them create more productions in the city.

We are always looking for volunteers to build sets, do hair and makeup, costumes, lighting, promotion/publicity,” says.

After Sherlock Holmes, the Phoenix Players will take on “Heroes” by Gerald Siblyras, a comedy about three aging veterans in France. “On the surface it’s about camaraderie and aging, but is really a poignant story of the resilience of the human spirit,” says Dimitrijevic.