To the average moviegoer, the name of Basil Rathbone conjures an image of fiction’s most famous detective - Sherlock Holmes. Certainly, of all the actors who have played the Baker Street sleuth, his interpretation was the most definitive.
Yet, for the true aficionado of the cinema, the actor was much more than the personification of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation. He was also Mr. Murdstone in David Copperfield, Richard III in Tower of London, Louis XI in If I Were King, Tybalt of Romeo and Juliet, Captain Estaban Pasquale in The Mark of Zorro, Sir Guy of Gisbourne from The Adventures of Robin Hood, and, of course, the Son of Frankenstein.
For most of his years in motion pictures, Rathbone was the victim of type-casting. During the 1930s, he was known as the screen’s ultimate villain - constantly in demand by producers to carry out dastardly deeds. Later, he assumed the guise of Sherlock Holmes and his past accomplishments were virtually forgotten. However, the fame that accompanied that role came at a high price: In a twist of fate, the role of a lifetime managed to irrevocably damage Rathbone’s career.
Michael B. Druxman’s Rathbone joins the actor near the end of his life while, because of his troubled financial condition, he is working on still another less than memorable film. The play delves into Rathbone’s dark side, exploring his relationships with his first wife, the son he virtually abandoned, and Ouida, the divisive woman to whom he was married for over 40 years, yet perhaps never really knew.