The Hound of the Baskervilles, Rugby Theatre, March 11-18
This is nothing like the version of the Conan Doyle’s masterpiece that I watched on film starring Basil Rathbone all those years ago but it is an extremely funny and zany spoof which certainly held the attention of an appreciative first night audience.
The tone is set by some carefully selected pre-show music including such classics as ‘Hound Dog’, ‘Who let the dogs out?’ and ‘Love me love my dog’!!.
The three overworked actors then make their entrance and proceed at a breakneck speed for the two Acts which contain thirty eight different scenes and dozens of costume and set changes.
The jokes, puns and slapstick may sometimes be corny but this just adds to the overall fun.
It may be a spoof but the script does remain loyal to the original plot and I doubt that even the most serious Sherlock fan would be offended. It celebrates Conan Doyle’s work and, in the words of the Director, Steve Crump, is intended as an ‘affectionate tribute’.
It is remarkable that the seventeen parts are played (with egotistical glee) by only three actors – Robert Sloan, Malcolm Stewart and Christopher Kier Allen-Mason.
It is a real accomplishment for amateur actors to remember all of those lines and movements as well as making their own scenery changes!
It is said the secret of good comedy is in the timing and they certainly got it spot on.
I particularly enjoyed some of the visual effects, for example when they are giving the effect of drowning in the marsh or making their entrance from the windy outdoors.
This production will appeal to all age groups. Some of the children may not have understood all the innuendos and puns but they seemed to be chuckling from beginning to end.
I even think I heard the name of this website in one of the lines – what an incredible coincidence, Whatson!
For more information and tickets visit rugbytheatre.co.uk or ring the box office 01788 541234.