Hound of the Baskervilles

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Reviewed by Matt Forrest

Over the years there has been many interpretations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles – at least 20 TV and film adaptations alone, not to mention countless theatrical productions. However I challenge anyone to say they have seen anything quite like Northern Rep’s version of this classic tale… and if you don’t believe me, the proof is currently at the King’s Arms for all too see. 

Arriving at the King’s Arms, Salford for a two week run, this fun filled murder mystery focuses on the mysterious death of Sir Charles Baskerville and the apparent threat to the heir of the Baskerville estate, Henry Baskerville. Super sleuth Sherlock Holmes and his trustee sidekick Dr Jane Watson travel from their home on Baker Street all the way to the Devonshire moors, where they encounter all manner of suspects, with even more suspect accents! Can our daring duo not only solve the case but also survive the horrid hell hound? Time will of course tell. 

Those expecting a faithful and straight laced reworking of this classic tale are in for a shock. This is an innovative, funny and downright brilliant reworking of this classic tale. All parts are played by two hugely talented actors in Michael Justice and Angela Hazeldine. The performances alternate with two other actors, so it’s pot luck as to who you’ll get, however this is the second time I have seen this production with different cast members and in no way has it detracted from my enjoyment – if anything, it’s all the better as it keeps things fresh and slightly unexpected. The script is packed full of so many double entendres and just plain daft gags that maybe it should be called Carry on up the Baskervilles. However the joy really comes from Justice and Hazeldine’s adlibbing and doing their best to put the other off their stride.  

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Granted, they play fast and loose with the original story and by the end the convoluted plot becomes secondary as the show becomes an excuse to have a bloody good giggle.  A spot of audience participation is required and the audience tonight got into the swing of things, laughter is most definitely the order of the day. 

As I said earlier, this was my second time seeing this production and each time has been something different: the first time there were some children in attendance and the second there were none, but both performances were adapted to make all feel welcome, with the first performance being more child friendly, without losing any of the humour. 

It’s the job of any critic to critique any show as honestly as possible, however sometimes there’s no harm in leaving it to audience members to have the final say: I got talking to a lovely couple during the interval and the gentlemen claimed he’s been watching shows with his wife for over 45 years, this he told me is only second show he hasn’t fallen asleep in during all that time and I can assure you he made it through the second half too! 

Go and see this riotous romp at your nearest opportunity – you certainly won’t be disappointed! Fun, filthy and downright fabulous! 

Hound of the Baskervilles is on at Kings Arms till the 25th November 

Tickets available from: http://www.kingsarmssalford.com/whats-on/ 

 

The Hound of the Baskervilles

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If you’re looking for a riotous romp through the mysterious Devonshire moors without having to leave the comforts of the city, then get yourselves down to Manchester’s newest pop-up theatre, The Reading Room where you’ll find Northern Rep putting their hilarious stamp on Arthur Conan Doyle’s much loved classic, The Hound of the Baskervilles.

This fun-filled murder-mystery spoof follows legendary super sleuths Sherlock Holmes and Dr Jane Watson as they attempt to solve the curious case of the death of Mr Charles Baskerville as the threat of the curse of a bloodthirsty hound looms large over Baskerville’s heir Henry. Unbeknown to our crime solving duo the secret to cracking the case may well be being kept from them by Charles’ very own family, despite this our detecting duo press on determined to return to Baker Street triumphant!

Incredibly all parts in this innovative production are played by just two actors who rotate performances, the highly versatile and hugely talented Christopher Brown and Angela Hazeldine perform this evening with Thea Beyleveld and Michael Justice also performing during the run. They differentiate characters by giving them superbly exaggerated accents from as far as Texas to Taunton and many, many places in between as well as props befitting each character. The duo blister through the piece with hilarious consequences, both are engaging, superbly silly and hugely entertaining, with the action becoming increasingly outrageous as we meet more and more characters from the moors.

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The emphasis here is on comedy and boy do the two cast members deliver; they play off each other beautifully as the sharp script gifts our duo with some real genuine moments of laugh out loud humour. Of course no spoof would be complete without occasional trips and line-fluffs which only adds to the controlled chaos of this delightful production, there are cheeky innuendos a plenty as canes are caressed and overgrown bushes penetrated, ooh err!

Director Thomas Moore has used the intimate space of the reading room to great effect. The beautifully crafted 30 seater venue within Manchester’s Great Northern Warehouse is the perfect setting for bringing the melodrama and magic of the piece to life. You don’t have to be a Sherlock Holmes fan to get enormous pleasure out of this farcical whodunit, the show’s spontaneous feel makes it accessible to all as the cast charmingly address the audience apologising for apparent mistakes. The Hound of the Baskervilles is an absolute riot, cheeky, chaotic and jolly good fun, with the fabulous Mrs Hudson on hand to wet your whistle it’s an absolute must-see!

On at The Reading Room, Great Northern until Saturday 16th September https://www.northernrep.co.uk/thebaskervilles