Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Reviewed by Alison Ruck
As one of the first full scale productions to grace the newly refurbished Bolton Octagon stage, I was very excited to head to the theatre for a night of comedy brilliance with The Hound of The Baskervilles.
The Octagon has just undertaken a million-pound refurbishment, set to improve accessibility, visitor experience and backstage facilities. And oh yes was it worth it, it looks amazing, the place is pristine, modern and beautiful. The Octagon has really upped it’s game and I cant wait to see what amazing work they produce going forward.
But anyway, back to The Hound of The Baskervilles. With a cast of only 3, the adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic adventure tells the story of one of Sherlock Holmes’ most popular case. The famous pair of Sherlock and Watson are asked to unravel the mystery surrounding the untimely death of Sir Charles Baskerville, and with rumours of a cursed giant hound on the loose, they must act fast to save the Baskerville family’s last remaining heir.
The trio of talented actors play a variety of roles throughout the show, incorporating a multitude of accents, costumes, and physicality to differentiate. Polly Lister plays Sir Henry Baskerville (amongst many others), Octagon Youth Theatre alumni, Reuben Johnson is the famous Sherlock Holmes (amongst many others), and Simon Kane is Mr Watson, who is the only constant in his role throughout.
The multi-rolling was brilliant, each one portrayed with dazzling humour and distinguish. One of my favourites wasMiss Cecile Stapleton played by The Octagon’s very own, Reuben, his flirty mannerisms combined with some brilliantly written comedy created the perfect, mysterious other woman.
All three actors were outstanding, their perfect comedy timing and exuberance created farcical brilliance which at times had me crying laughing, particularly at the scenes with the dummies (no spoilers) which had the whole audience in stiches. The cast have great chemistry on stage and even when speaking to the audience (or breaking the fourth wall for those who like technical terms) the comedy was very natural and raw, flowing from ‘break out’ to ‘acting’ effortlessly whilst keeping the comedy simple and easy.
The production, directed by Lotte Wakeham, was minimal yet clever staging, making use of only a few items of set that immediately help place a scene and the clever use of props that not only keep you with the story but add subtle moments of humour within the scenes. Similarly, the costumes, designed by David Woodhead allowed you to differentiate between characters even through the quick changes and role swaps, each one accentuated each character perfectly, which was further emphasised by the fantastic actors.
When you’re not laughing away, you’re sucked into the world of Holmes and Watson through the twists and turns of the plot. I was unfamiliar with the production, so I was utterly entranced by the ‘who did it’ drama and was even surprised by the findings of the detective pair.
This adaption of The Hounds of The Baskervilles was the perfect blend of farcical comedy and mystery drama. A fun show, sure to have you howling with laughter (pun intended)from start to finish.
The Hound of The Baskervilles is on at Octagon Theatre, Bolton until Saturday 7th August tickets available https://octagonbolton.co.uk