Writer: Ben Langley
Directors: Jamie Wilson &Ben Langley
Reviewer: Rosie Revell
Just what is to be expected of a show whose own programme advises the audience to “hang your brains up with your coats when you enter” and whose own cast urge “Lower your standards.” In truth what follows is a frenetic, oddball, slapstick 90 minutes of fun and where else will you watch a show where the cast prepare and eat a meal in front of your very eyes.
Following up previous Ha Ha productions Ha Ha Hamlet and Ha Ha Hitler, Ha Ha Holmes shamelessly, and more importantly hilariously, cashes in on the current mania for all things Sherlock Holmes directors Langley and Wilson amp up the fun and silliness to new levels and joining them on this adventure is new boy, to the team, squeaky voiced comedian Joe Pasquale to investigate this interesting take on Conan Doyle’s most famous work The Hound of The Baskervilles.
Holmes (Pasquale) and his colleague Dr Watson (Ben Langley) are invited to Dartmoor by Dr Mortimer (Andrew Fettes) to investigate the death of Sir Charles Baskerville. Are he and his family the victims of a terrible curse, whereby they are hunted by the titular hound? In all good spoofs the story runs second to the gags and there are plenty here.
The excellent cast frequently step out of character to speak to the audience. Pasquale’s Holmes is a master of that, stepping in and out of character at the drop of a (deerstalker) hat. Gently poking fun at the audience, himself and the cast around him and he does so with aplomb. Ben Langley (Watson) is a great physical comedian who happily plays second fiddle to Pasquale but he has his own moments to shine also. Andrew Fettes plays the rest of the characters ranging from Fanny to Sir Charles Baskerville and he does so with amazing quick change speed.
The cast also move the scenery around for every scene change, initially clunky the audience soon get used to it. The scenery itself is very clever and multifunctional, transforming from a staircase, to a horse drawn carriage, to a dining room, Aga and functioning microwave. Audience participation is mandatory and inspired; the horses for the carriage are provided by the stalls.
Inevitably, considering the pace, not every joke hits the mark and unfortunately the sound is, at times awful, meaning that diction and more importantly meaning is lost but overall a fantastically silly evening well worth the ticket price.