Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

hound trio

Martin Salter (left), Stuart Wishart and Richard Taylor set for the moors.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Nonentities

The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster


So the long, hot, great summer of 2018 is drawing to a close and what better autumn treat than to pull up your collar and settle into the cosy, yet chilling Dartmoor tale of Sherlock Holmes’ The hound of the Baskervilles – right?

Well that would  be so in the hands of anyone else but the Nonentities deliver this spoof adaption by Steve Canny and John Nicholson of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic with a huge does of pantomime mirth. They also manage to do it with just three of their key company players and a handful of props.

Canny and Nicholson put this deconstructed version together in 2007 after penning a host of radio comedy shows. That pedigree shows too. as there is something of the Goons about the script with the emphasis on verbal humour. Having said that the visual action is very funny to watch and was expertly performed.

The production is full of strategic economy in both the set and cast with Richard Taylor, Martin Salter and Stuart Wishart, all seasoned Nonentities’ performers, being the only cast needed. Each of them play a multitude of characters and this farcical telling of the hound gave them ample scope to showcase their individual’s talents.

The play begins very much like a revue with the players introducing themselves and often breaks down into direct dialogue with the audience during the story.

It’s all strictly for laughs and there are costume changes that go wrong, fake beards and bad wigs even a zany musical number for added comedy and all delivered at breakneck speed by the cast.

The behind the scenes guys also feature with the comedy timing especially with the appearance of a fireplace on wheels, which made more entrances than the actors it seemed.

We were even treated to a madcap re run of the first half at the start of the second act at triple the speed just in case you had slept through the action from the beginning.

A mention goes to Joe harper with his lighting design as many of the changes in effects were directly tied to the humour. Also to Amy Baker and her sound cues which went a long way to add atmosphere to the play.

This kind of production directed by Bob Graham is a distillation of a classic and so might not sit well with the literary purists.  However the laughter on the night certainly raised the woof and the pace of the performance meant there was no paws for thought. Each of the stellar performances had plenty of bite and they doggedly set about retrieving as many laughs as possible fur the duration.

The hound might be one scary tail but the None Entities ensured no one was heading for the Labrador. To 15-09-18

Jeff Grant


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