Review - Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery - Sweet and Sour Productions


By  Nuria Palau


One of the most notable quotes of theatre states “… one man in his time plays many parts”. In Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, five men and women play around 40 parts and it is impressive.

This version of the classic by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, directed by Candice Moore, keeps the story’s core. Not only are the characters and plot basically the same, but the period and location also are. What’s new is the way the story is told, a farcical mystery, filled with corny cliche lines and cartoonish characters.

The play begins with five actors onstage. Davina Lee Carrete plays Sir Charles Baskerville in his last moments of life; the rest create a gruesome setting, using props and voices as instruments, demonstrating from the very beginning the cast’s synergistic relationship. From there we are transferred to Baker Street where Dr. James Mortimer (played by Hamish Campbell) approaches Sherlock Holmes (Ivan Idzik) and Watson (Warren Adams) to investigate the murder of his friend, the descendant of a wealthy but cursed family lineage. From that point on, we follow Holmes and Watson, meeting all sorts of whacky characters, every one of them played by either Davina Lee Carrete, Hamish Campbell or Jacqueline Gourlay Grant.

As the story unravels, the energy goes up and the audience remains engaged throughout. Every now and then Watson breaks the fourth wall to help the story move forward and the character extravaganza progresses. Every encounter is different, with the actors going out of their way to change their physicality, voice and expressions. The constant presence of Idzik and Adams allows for running gags like the infatuation of the female characters with Dr Watson, expressed by each in their own way.

The play ends up being a delightful display of talent, from Lee Carrete’s confident but quirky portrayal of mostly male roles to Campbell’s hilarious physical range and Gourlay Grant’s radiant charisma. Additionally, the two actors who keep their characters throughout the play have a strongly contrasting dynamic: Adams portraying a very likeable Watson to Idzik’s dry and stoic Sherlock.

My only reservation about this production is that a fair few jokes didn’t pay off.  The situations were well set up, the characterization funny, the energy high: so why? Maybe at these moments the tone lacked diversity. There was also awkward blocking in some scenes, the actors uncomfortable with the space, especially when Adams approaches the spectators. Whilst overall the playing was fun and entertaining, the audience rarely laughed out loud.

In technical terms the production is immensely resourceful. The actors are well deployed and the scenes shift deftly through screen projection, changes in lighting or sound and the way the ensemble interacts with the set. This way, Moore reminds us that less is more. In addition, costumes, wigs and a few props dance and fly around the stage (and one can only imagine how they do backstage), keeping up the fast-paced spectacle.

Every time a classic such as Sherlock Holmes is staged, it gives us a chance to reexamine it, to do something new and explore new possibilities, redefining the tale and its telling. However, it is also important to keep in mind that it can be an introduction to a new audience. On Thursday night, in the first row of Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, there were young boys engrossed in the narrative; they laughed, they fell for the jump scares, and were throughout intrigued by and enjoyed the show.

Rate This Show: 1 2 3 4 5 Audience Rating: 4.0


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