The lights dim, the wind howls and the game is afoot.
Sarah Taylor’s rendition of Steven Canny and John Nicholson’s farcical adaption of the Hound of the Baskervilles opens on a dark night with a man running for his life and a death of a most mysterious nature. Surely Sherlock Holmes (Benjamin Gibson), the infamous (second best) detective will solve this crime! But wait… The cast seem confused, the opening announcement hasn’t been made and Sir Henry Baskerville (Joseph Folley) has lost his trousers! The farce never stops and energy is abundant in this rollercoaster of a whodunnit.
Dr Watson (Sophie Scott) and Sir Henry embark on a quest to Dartmoor that is as side splitting a disaster as you ever did see. Mostly because this cast of 3 are playing all 17 characters and juggling all 30 props in a bid to discover who the murderer most foul truly is. The entire farse has an air of ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ about it but is also generously smattered with wit and humour akin to that of something more ‘Blackadder’-esque.
But the most entertaining part of the play was the section which kicked off the second half, where Holmes makes a most terrible of discoveries on Twitter, and deduces and directs a course of action which is sure to have the audience in stitches. This is an ingenious plot twist (which I dare not spoil by revealing any more of its nature) and reboots the mystery at a hilariously rapid pace in the second half.
With more death comes more confusion as the mystery grows ever stranger.
Sir Henry’s in the mood for love, the hound is in the mood for Sir Henry and Dr Watson probably should never have been given a revolver in the first place. As the show goes on, regardless of the disaster it unleashes, the locals keep getting stranger, the plot more contorted and a huge assortment of items are shown to be applicable substitutions for a beard.
At some points it was hard to know which disasters were actually in the script and how much ad-libbing was stuck on top, but this only adds to the humour of this epic saga – a rather entertaining affair, I would deduce. The cast of three do a fabulous job, just about holding things together, apparently against significant odds of illness during rehearsals. (That they are still standing by the end of the whole thing is a rather impressive feat in itself.)
If you are a Sherlock fan, a whodunit enthusiast, or just looking for a barrelful of laughs, then The Hound of the Baskervilles is highly recommended. Elementary, my dear reader!