BWW Review: Montevallo Main Street Players Release the Comedy Hounds in BASKERVILLE
A talented actor can make one role seem like a hundred. This mantra is proven in the latest comedy offering from the Montevallo Main Street Players. Ken Ludwig cooks up a campy comedy mystery in "Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery". The play is adapted from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic novel The Hound of the Baskervilles. Sherlock Holmes (Bill Nixon) and his right hand man Doctor Watson (Taylor Coe) are hot on the case investigating a mystery, murder and a monstrous hellhound on the prowl. The colorful characters they encounter lead them on a merry chase from London's underbelly to the foreboding English moors. The "umph" of the show is not found in Doyle's 150 year old story. The strength comes from how the story is told. The comedy gumbo in this production is well seasoned with influences from Monty Python, Mel Brooks, Marx Brothers and Carol Burnett. You will find classic film gags and slapstick that are still funny. The comedy blends in well and makes for a fast paced Sherlock Holmes mystery. The foundation of the play solely depends on impressive character work. The five ensemble actors (Cassidy Le, Claire Martin, Isaac Whittle, Mary Purvis and Michael-Paul Smith) bring to life over 40 characters throughout the play. Delivering a character that is relatable and distinct takes much focus, but these talented actors make it look easy.
Director Jake Beaty simple black box staging benefits the production. The uncluttered stage and very creative set dressings adds to the intimacy of the performance. All the actors help sell the multiple environments and transitions with fluidity. Beaty also implements fun surprises in the pacing that keep it moving forward with laughs. Ludwig's ambitious writing does suffer some muddled plot points due to a term used in improv called "offer suffocation" This is when too many elements are injected into the a scene to fast. The balance of comedy and drama is on a see-saw in each act. The first act leans more towards a straight edge storyline with peppering of comedy shtick mixed in. The second act however bellows with more fun camp and comedy gold.
The cast is solid. Bill Nixon give Sherlock Holmes an expected dry delivery. Taylor Coe fully commits the comedy in playing Doctor Watson. His narrations and campy persona really sell the show. Breakout performer award goes to Isaac Whittle in the ensemble role of Actor 1. "Baskerville" is his first crack at acting and he is outstanding. Whittle has a natural stage presence, precise character work and spotless comedy timing. He chews up each scene running the gambit from being a Texas millionaire, a cockney street tough, a foul-mouthed inspector and more. He is having fun on stage and it shows in his performance.
"Baskerville" is an entertaining take on a classic mystery. The show's creativity and comedy make it a worthwhile journey to Montevallo. Just be sure to stay clear of the moors.
Baskerville: a Sherlock Holmes Mystery
Written by Ken Ludwig
Directed by Jake Beaty
Montevallo Main Street Players
at Parnell Memorial Library
277 Park Dr, Montevallo, AL 35115
Aug 11-12 at 7:30, Aug 13 at 2:00
$12 general admission / $8 for students, seniors and military.
Tickets and info call 205-665-9207 or go to www.montevallomainstreetplayers.org
**For those who are animal sensitive, no hellhounds are injured in the production.**