The Hound of the Baskervilles at Brockley Jack Studio Theatre
For this end of year festive production, the team at Jack Studio Theatre have taken on one of the infamous Sherlock Holmes tales. This murder mystery, however, isn’t the dark and haunting thriller it once was. Writers Steve Canny and John Nicholson have flipped the story to create a brilliantly crafted comedy full of fast-paced fun and frivolity.
It all starts with the death of Charles Baskerville, the lord of an estate in Dartmoor. It turns out there is a legend that the family are haunted by a spectral hound and when Henry Baskerville, the last living heir, goes to reclaim his home, Sherlock and Dr Watson are called in to investigate.
All the roles, which include numerous strange and peculiar characters, are performed by only three actors: Joey Bartman (Sherlock Holmes), Adam Elliot (Dr Watson) and Andrew Fitch (Henry Baskerville). Switching between their various parts without skipping a beat, they lead the audience through this witty retelling with a plentiful amount of charisma and charm.
The writing is absolute gold. Each scene is cleverly crafted for laughs from the onset and the actors are as much a part of the production as their roles. Frequently, the play is interrupted by fourth wall breaks and mishaps that are scripted for effect, but each is done so well they don’t feel disingenuous in the slightest. In one moment Henry Baskerville turns up ahead of schedule, to which Watson cracks a joke to the number of “I hadn’t expected you quite so soon”. It’s a truly fantastic blend of script and performance ad-lib.
The set and design, too, are minimal but work in unison with the humour. Particularly through the use of creative sound and lighting each scene flows to the next with laughs apparent. This is surpassed again after the interval, where Joey Barman exclaims there has been a tweet that has annoyed him. The cast then proceed to repeat the whole first act with blinding speed, which makes for hilarious interchanges even with the repeated jokes.
It can often be the case with comedies that some scenes fall flatter than others, but The Hound of the Baskervilles starts high and ends on an even higher note. There’s no bloating and the comedic timing is faultless. It’s a truly fantastically crafted play and without doubt makes for the perfect Christmas treat.
Photo: Tim Stubbs
The Hound of the Baskervilles is at Brockley Jack Studio Theatre from 13th December 2016 until 7th January 2017, for further information or to book visit here.