hound clouds

Niall Ransome and Jake Ferretti. Pictures: Pamela Raith

The Hound of The Baskervilles

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry


The scene is set beautifully for The Hound of the Baskervilles with a backdrop of the darkened mansion, mood music, guttering lights in the attic, a dodgy butler with a false beard, an escaped murderer from nearby Dartmoor prison and the howls of a very dangerous dog on the loose.

But there Sir Arthur Conan Doyle might part company with the main story as just three hard-working actors take over telling the story their way. Scary it isn’t, funny it is…

The weak hearts of the Baskerville family have claimed Sir Charles, then heir-apparent Sir Henry (Serena Manteghi) arrives from Canada to claim title and Baskerville Hall. Sherlock Holmes (Jake Ferretti) and Dr Watson (Niall Ransome) are summoned by person or persons unknown to keep Sir Henry alive against the odds. It’s a toss-up if the dog, the bog or the fog would claim Sir Henry first.

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Niall Ransome and Serena Manteghi

Sir Henry loses shoes, trousers and dignity but survives as Sherlock struggles to deduce who’s up to no good. Stapleton’s eerie South American ‘sister’ Cecille in full Spanish costume (Jake Ferretti) adds a touch of the exotic – and a wonderfully choreographed Paso Doble with glitterball a la Strictly. Dance was a surprise, but a good one, and there’s also the brilliant dance through the bog as Stapleton (also Jake Ferretti) leads the visitors through the dangers of Dartmoor.

The real rib-tickling was at the start of the second half where the three actors reprise the whole first half in five minutes flat as ‘punishment’ for a member of the audience tweeting that it was under par. It was fast and furious and very funny, with muddled costume changes and mangled lines, finished neatly by Watson having to grab a minute’s quiet and his asthma inhaler!

It’s so lovely that live theatre is back and this is a welcoming treat. The vast majority of the audience were still wearing masks. Masks were also useful for the vast amount of atmospheric dry ice that escaped from the stage in a perfect metaphor for the fog that seem to cloud Sherlock’s analysis of the situation. In a mighty twist, it was self-deprecating Watson who solved this whodunnit!

Directed by Lotte Wakeham and Tim Jackson, Original Theatre Company’s hound will be threatening the Belgrade to 12-02-22and then on walkies, sorry, tour.

Jane Howard


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