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Waterfront Festival

Theatre Review: The Hound of the Baskervilles

26 November 21 words: Kevin Stanley

Frenetic fun on the gloomy moors

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle comes to Nottingham, having been adapted for the stage by Steven Canny and John Nicholson for Peepolykus. Ably directed by Tim Jackson and starring Jake Ferretti, Serena Manteghi and Niall Ransome.

The eager and likable cast of Jake Ferretti (Sherlock Holmes), Serena Manteghi (Sir Henry), and Niall Ransome (Dr. Watson) are endlessly energetic and game throughout, producing fine comic performances that raise many laughs throughout the almost two hour show.

They produce a wonderful blend of farce, slapstick, mime and dance, offering audiences a unique and funny twist on one of the greatest detective stories of all time. World-renowned detective Sherlock Holmes and his colleague Dr. Watson on the case to solve the mysterious death of Sir Charles Baskerville. Was he killed by a bloodthirsty hell hound that stalks the moors? or Barrymore the butler? There's only one way to find out!

The set is simple, with only the micro cast (plus three stagehands) available for moving props and scenery around. Costume changes are slick and quick as the cast rapidly switch between numerous characters with ease. And whilst the accents might be a little grating at times it's all good fun, though the big stage does feel somewhat empty at times with such a small cast and scant scenery and props.

The rapid set and costume changes are ingeniously orchestrated, it's clear that a great deal of thought has gone into how this all happens at the fast pace of the show. Pieces of scenery are used for multiple purposes and it's all rather impressive… a light dangling from above, picture frames and a simple desk serve as scenery for 221B Baker Street, coat stands, chairs and wooden crates are used as dynamic pieces of scenery as the crates become a horse and carriages, and even a train.

The lighting and sound design is also a big part of the mix to create tension and a gloomy/foreboding atmosphere, plus copious amounts of dry ice standing in for fog (very effective) and there is ominous growling throughout when the hound is nearby.

Overall, this production of Hound of the Baskervilles has the faint air of am-dram improv, which is in fact finely crafted, lovingly produced and deceptively well performed. It's fun, frantic, and the performances are fast paced and enjoyable, with the opening of the second half of the show being a super-fast recap of the first half - a standout moment which is both entertaining and impressive.

A great show suitable for all ages who fancy an inoffensive and engaging theatrical romp.

The Hound of the Baskervilles plays at Nottingham's Theatre Royal from Wednesday 24 to Saturday 27 November 2021.

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