I love going to the theatre, whether it’s up in London, or just locally in and around Essex. On Friday night my parents took me to see The Hound of the Baskervilles at Queen’s Theatre. I had no idea really what to expect, having never read the novel, or seen the film adaptation(s), but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
For those unfamiliar with the plot: Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead on the Dartford moors; there are paw prints next to his body. Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Doctor Watson are left to solve the mystery of the hound before another member of the Baskerville family is targeted.
The production was given a comedy twist which made it really entertaining and the cast got into character superbly. There were only four actors starring in the play – or three if you discount the one on the pianoforte, who also had a minor role (he got roped in by the others to play a Yokel in one scene).
As with most murder-mystery stories, the mise-en-scene played a big part in creating the atmosphere and the production at Queen’s delivered. As you’d expect from a Sherlock Holmes detective case the setting added mystery and eeriness – the moors with manor house in the background was shown on a projector which acted as a back drop; the other black and white period images alongside the lighting created that feel of darkness wonderfully. The music was suitable to each particular scene, with the likes of Puccini and Prokofiev being played. The smoke too, added to the tension, particularly in the moor scenes where, with the added darkness, it was hard to see what was happening – and who or what may materialise next!
The comedy element was apparent from the off, with the play beginning as you would expect, with Baskerville’s dead body lying out in the moor. Before you know it, one of the actors appears on the stage yelling “stop”, causing confusion amidst the audience. It turns out it is all part of the act as they explain they need to make it clear “this will contain gunshots” before requesting “people of a nervous position” may want to leave. From there, it’s straight back into the action – but there are in-jokes throughout. The beginning of the second act also has a similar impact, an initial bewilderment but comic all the same – the cast quickly re-enacted the first half in a couple of minutes, and there was an element of slapstick when Simon Jessop as Watson gets himself in a bit of a pickle. It had the crowd in raucous laughter anyway, and once this recap was complete, there was a rapturous applause.
I thoroughly recommend going to see The Hound of the Baskervilles if you’re in or around the area, and the show is running until Saturday 17th November. Prices range from £10 to £24.50 and although the top-end may seem a little pricy, the show will have you in stitches and never stray from the real plotline.