Theatre Review: Sherlock Holmes - The Hound of the Baskervilles

By Miles Watts | 3rd August 2016


Holmes and Watson by Ant Robling

One&Other have had the unique perspective of following this production over the four weeks of its creation and preparation, and what’s remarkable is how the company have managed to create a very fun, full-blooded Sherlock Holmes play in such a short time. Despite our adventures behind the scenes, we sat down on press night to enjoy The Hound of the Baskervilles with the rest of the audience members and came away entertained as well as impressed.

The talent on display here is manifold; from the versatile David Leonard’s natural fit as Holmes (and his hysterical performance as the lurching Mr. Barrymore) to Joanna Holden’s multiple roles as Mrs Hudson, Mrs Barrymore and ‘assorted urchins and peasants’ & Rachel Dawson and Ed Thorpe as multiple characters armed with musical instruments. Elexi Walker makes a fetching, quick-witted Dr Watson and has some great comedy moments such as translating a Cockney cabbie’s diatribe to unravelling a seemingly endless operatic subtitle. Such inventiveness is at the heart of Damian Cruden’s spirited production.

Half the fun of Sherlock Holmes: The Hound of the Baskervilles at York Theatre Royal is reading through the very handsome playbill beforehand, which fills in the background of this being a fictional Victorian troupe of actors working for the Henry & Rose Dimmell Travelling Theatre Company.

As Leonard says in the interview below, there were hundreds of such playbills unearthed when the Theatre Royal was excavated, inspiring the kick-off point for this production. The cast and crew gathered in early summer to reduce Conan Doyle’s wordy novel to the two hours’ traffic of their stage, taking in music hall, shadow puppetry, slapstick, drama, pantomimic comedy and stylish thrills amid the London fog: the company really couldn’t have crammed any more detail into this fast-moving, colourful production.

The play begins with Holmes at home in full brain-twisting form, solving what turn out to be the seeds of a most baffling case: lots of 221b Baker Street fun for all the family, including some Top Secret! levels of silliness with sight gags and puns galore.

After this first act, the play separates Watson from Holmes, who convalesces at home while his partner attempts to solve the creepy mysteries of Dartmoor, involving spectral dogs, creaky old houses and misty goings-on on the moors. Some very big laughs and a satisfying conclusion in which Holmes returns in full deerstalker regalia for a knees-up singalong conclusion. It’s here that we must give honourable mention to Mark Walters’ appropriately gothic, smoky sets, Richard Hurford’s witty words and the musical genuis of Rob Castell, who also stars as Henry Baskerville (via his alter ego Mr Fred Conquest) and who, along with the cast, has devised some truly catchy, memorable songs and music worthy of the West End.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is on now and runs until 27 August, with matinee and evening performances available. It’s a great family night out for those wishing to get their fix of laughs, silliness, surprises amd Sherlock-style shenanigans. Watch the trailer below and our complete set of behind the scenes films HERE, and book your tickets using the white button below. The game is most assuredly afoot!

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