Writer: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Adaptor/Director: Thomas Moore
Reviewer: Donna Kelly
When Northern Rep launched late last year, the new theatre co-operative promised to deliver shows that are innovative, affordable and unpredictable… and their barking spoof of The Hound of the Baskervilles is certainly that.
Based loosely on classic mystery by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles follows the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his trusted sidekick Dr Jane Watson as they journey from London to the Devonshire Moors to solve the mystery of a legendary supernatural hound who stalks the moors at night, killing members of the wealthy Baskerville family. Fresh from solving the case, Holmes and Watson invite a group of friends into the intimate drawing room of 221b Baker Street to share their far-fetched tale and poke fun at the mystery and melodrama of the Moor.
Directed and adapted for stage by Thomas Moore, this fast-paced, full-on farce is an immersive piece of theatre like no other. The audience is thrown straight into the midst of the action as the characters weave in and out of the crowd and Mrs Hudson serves refreshments from your seat.
Two actors play every role in the two-hour riotous romp, which totals around 15 different characters. Christopher Brown and Angela Hazeldine deliver riotous performances as Mr Holmes and Dr Watson respectively, using all of the tricks in their arsenal from slapstick and physical comedy to sexual innuendos and a clever play on words, to convey their far-fetched tale.
Yet while Northern Rep have clearly worked hard to deliver a piece of innovative local theatre, the show isn’t without its flaws. among all the chaos and silliness, the actors occasionally forget their lines and the plot becomes increasingly more and more incoherent as time goes on, resulting in both audience – and the cast – losing track of what is actually happening.
The theatre space itself also poses a few problems, with external noise from other venues in the building drowning out the actors’ voices, making it difficult to hear the dialogue at times.
That said, when it works, it works well and despite its flaws, this is an entertaining and energetic piece of immersive theatre.
Runs until 16 September 2017