Review: The Hound of the Baskervilles

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“An outstanding and innovative expedition into the world of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.”

⭐⭐⭐⭐

“The hound!” cried Holmes. “Come, Watson, come! Great heavens, if we are too late!”

From Dartmoor to Lancaster, the haunting classic, The Hound of the Baskervilles is brought to the stage as Doyle’s most notorious case begins. A tale of horror, betrayal and deceit, the director sets the scene in the world of Sherlock Holmes and is quick to devour attention. Striking it’s marked as it means to continue thick smoke, broken by only the swift attack of lightning which consumes the stage as the encounters the horror of the hound.
Depicting the tragic events following the death of Charles Baskerville, Sherlock (James Gladdon) is thrown into the deep end following his previous failed case. A detective lost in a silent depression, it falls to Watson (Jake Wilson Craw) to make the journey with young Henry Baskerville (Rebecca Tebbett) and the fearful Dr Mortimer (Siobhan Stanley). Initially deemed supernatural folklore, it is quickly realised the real danger Henry Baskerville has inherited.

As the drama unfolds this intelligent production, pivoting around a singular table, takes on a new dimension with changes of a scene growing from remarkable subtleties that truly engulf the audience into the heart of Doyle’s drama. From the darkness of the moor to the majesty of Baskerville manor, you couldn’t imagine a more juxtaposing setting as the dynasty of the Baskervilles is unveiled. The set is simple, decreeing the moorland as the background red. The creature morphs from the natural scene, imprinting bodies on the hills, and the face of the hound lingers in its moorland. Tension and fear are accomplished, and the audience left alarmed, awaits to see the next victim.

Not only an ingenious set but intriguing use of a character with actors taking on multiple roles. Quick cast changes are rife but don’t distract from the tale; if anything they add further complexity especially with Henry Baskerville falling for Miss Stapleton both of whom are played by the same actor, Rebecca Tebbett. Despite such a modest cast, every character was captured, and energetic performances were to be had by all particularly James Gladdon and Siobhan Stanley. James Gladdon (Sherlock) so insightfully captured the rapid movements of Doyle’s masterful detective as well as encompassing the harshness of his treatment towards his companion, Watson. Gladdon poses such satire and sarcasm to great success, a despicable yet beloved detective. Dr Mortimer (Siobhan Stanley) represents far more than a mid-wife rather a pivotal character of the 20th Century with her role being suppressed by masculine prejudice. Siobhan Stanley so elegantly captures this with her harsh retorts to Watson’s unfathomed animosity to her position of doctor. Dr Mortimer’s sense of duty and confidence is wholly reflected in Stanley’s performance and adds not only social insight but also an element of authenticity to Doyle’s literary landscape.

Enchanting from the first to the last, this portrays of peril and crime is so well crafted with stand out performances, sensitive design and a glimpse into an innovative theatre. The world of Sherlock Holmes; so cleverly crafted and undoubtedly well received.

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