The Hound of the Baskervilles

Worcester Live


How much is that doggie in the window and other songs with a canine theme provide the context for this spoof on Conan Doyle’s tale of The Hound of the Baskervilles, a tale with a plot best described as highly convoluted.

Even reading the synopsis on Wikipedia requires intense concentration as you discover the curse of the Baskervilles dates back a few centuries and when Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead on the moors with a face contorted with fear, Sherlock Holmes is called upon to identify the cause.

The arrival from Canada of his heir, Sir Henry Baskerville, raises fears that the curse of the hound will strike again, so Watson is dispatched with him initially to research the issue, while Sherlock turns up in disguise to try and unravel the same mystery.

Chris Jaeger has chosen to explore this story in the form of comic spoof. Summer productions in the open air in the Commandery Gardens in Worcester have a comic tradition that invite a production focused on maximising laughs over serious interpretation and theatre.

In this regard the show is very successful, running the full gamut of clichés, local innuendoes and comic devices in a thoroughly light-hearted way that leaves the audience well entertained.

Typically, there is no set, the show relies visually on the use of period costumes that are well designed. The projection of the cast is very good allied to slick performances which all help the show succeed.

The range of puns, repeated business and witty gags is actually quite impressive, although the second act lacks the pace as the first making it feel as though the standard comic devices are starting to run out.

Some of the jokes are slightly overplayed. Sometimes the planned corpsing is a bit obvious. But this is light entertainment to be enjoyed with a glass of wine, salmon sandwiches and strawberries and cream.

Typically the play works around the comic strengths of Ben Humphrey as Sherlock; Jonathan Darby (Stapleton, Laura Lyons and others) and Murray Andrews (Charles and Henry Baskerville) give particularly strong performances. One senses that this a team who enjoy working together combined with Chris Jaeger’s fertile imagination and humour.

The evening ends with another of his signature song-and-dance numbers which rounds the evening off with satisfying frivolity. The current spell of dry weather is particularly well-suited to an outdoor piece of light-hearted entertainment and fun. Don’t expect the highbrow; be ready to laugh and respond à la pantomime. Book for the coming week; the show runs till Sunday, 22-07-18

Tim Crow


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