ComedyDramaNorth WestReview

The Hound of the Baskervilles – The Lowry, Salford

Reviewer Phil Goodwin

Writer: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Adaptor: Steven Canny & John Nicholson

Director: Tim Jackson & Lotte Wakeham

Such is the public affection for Sherlock Holmes and his deductive genius that now it seems even the stage adaptations are beginning to acquire classic status. This comic retelling of perhaps the best-loved of the super sleuth’s adventures – adapted by Steven Canny and John Nicholson for Peepolykus way back in 2007 – has now racked up an incredible 150 productions.

Holmes and his loyal companion Dr. Watson are once again enlisted to unravel the mysterious death of Sir Charles Baskerville, the apparent victim of a supernatural hound stalking Dartmoor. Lotte Wakeham’s acclaimed production, directed on tour by Tim Jackson, is largely faithful to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original novel. Tweed-clad gentleman twirl moustaches in stuffy Victorian drawing rooms as the howls of the ferocious beast drift menacingly across Grimpen Moor.

This time, Jake Ferretti dons the deerstalker, Niall Ransome plays the hapless sidekick while Serena Manteghi completes the cast as Sir Henry Baskerville, the last surviving member of the line. Between them, the well-worn Victorian yarn and a sprawling cast of characters are brought to life in a series of rapid costume changes and enjoyable set pieces, many inspired by the silent movie era. The fourth wall is broken from the get-go, giving the show what feels like a slow start, but the strength of this production is the energetic cast, who soon begin to pick up the pace.

After the interval, a supposed critical tweet from an audience member pricks Ferreti’s vanity and leads to an audience-punishing, fast-forward recap of the entire of Act One. The cast seem to have a real rapport and this skillful and high-speed slapstick rerun turns into a delight and puts wind in the sails.

Under the looming backdrop of Baskerville Hall, the scenes flow seamlessly with ingenious and economical use of props – the multi-use beard/wig and picture frame/window among the funniest. Ferretti and Manteghi do most of the heavy lifting in the character swapping, while Ransome remains mostly bemused as a very funny Watson, who try as he might, never quite gets the point.

All three are equally brilliant in the knockabout stuff, bouncing off each other throughout what is a very physical show. In the programme, the writers assure us that, despite having been remade so many times, this latest production from the Original Theatre Company and Octagon Theatre Bolton, is a good one. The enthusiastic and generous reaction of the audience suggests they are right.

Perhaps successive retellings have honed the writing, perfected the comic takes, and finessed the physical comedy. The result is a slick, innovative, and energetic whodunnit with plenty of laughs.

Runs until 5 February 2022 and touring

The Reviews Hub Score

slick, innovative and energetic

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The Reviews Hub - North West

The North West team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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