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BWW Review: THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, Richmond Theatre

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Conan Doyle's hero gets a farcical makeover in this energetic production

BWW Review: THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, Richmond Theatre

BWW Review: THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, Richmond Theatre The Hound Of The Baskervilles, one of Sherlock Holmes' most famous cases, is not known for its comedy. In this revival from The Original Theatre Company and Octagon Theatre Bolton, the macabre story becomes a fast-paced and humorous farce.

The retelling of the story is fairly faithful to the original, although it is performed in a completely alternative manner. We begin in the office of Sherlock Holmes where he and his friend Dr Watson are visited by Dr Mortimer who comes with a legend of a supernatural hound roaming around Dartmoor. This hound has been dispatching various members of the Baskerville family. Can Holmes prevent the next in line to the estate from being killed off?

The production is a brisk and clever three-hander that sometimes feels like it edges towards hysteria. In all, the cast take on over a dozen characters, all three with a great aptitude for physical comedy and showing great energy and timing. The execution of the costume changes and character alterations is very dexterous.

Jake Ferretti is an amusingly uptight and pompous Sherlock Holmes. He shows good diversity in his interpretations of the sinister naturalist Stapleton and is very funny as Stapleton's supposed sister Cecile, who flounces around in a flamenco outfit.

Ferretti has a lovely chemistry with Niall Ransome as a bumbling and amiable Dr. Watson. Ranscome really plays up the clueless side of the character, although his consistent failure to recognise Holmes in a variety of disguises is only funny once.

Serena Manteghi is consistently very funny. As the ebullient Sir Henry, she is a British actor incapable of doing a Canadian accent, but she also shows great adaptability as an excessively cockney London cabbie and a variety of local Dartmoor 'Yokels'.

Tim Jackson keeps much of Lotte Wakeman's original direction with repeated breaking of the fourth wall and draws slapstick and farcical influences from productions such The 39 Steps and The Play That Goes Wrong. The pace, particularly in the second act, is frenetic, with rapid costume changes. The recap of the first act is especially well-executed and very funny, although some of the puns in the rest of the show are a little weak.

Designer David Woodhead's set is sparse but effective with an impressive background of a foreboding-looking house surrounded by spooky trees, enhanced by Derek Anderson's atmospheric lighting and Andy Graham's sound design. There is also an extensive use of props on castors to enable rapid set changes.

This is an entertaining, daft and silly production, with a huge amount of energy from the upbeat cast. It is not a production for the Sherlock Holmes purists, but it is an evening of frivolous fun.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is at Richmond Theatre until 6 November, then touring

Photo Credit: Pamela Raith


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