The Hound of the Baskervilles Review (Streaming Online)
Updated: Apr 28, 2022
When you hear the words ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ you would easily be forgiven for envisioning images of mist covered moors, shadows in the darkness and the risk of death by murderous hound, and whilst all of these things appear in this Peepolykus adaptation by John Nicholson and Steven Canny, the classic scary story has well and truly been given the comedy treatment in a way you could never have imagined.
It tells the story of the rumoured curse that surrounds the Baskerville family, a fate that awaits them all and the mystery of the murderous hound who seems to be behind their untimely ends. Following the death of Sir Charles Baskerville, Sherlock and Dr Watson are tasked to solve the case and protect of Sir Henry Baskerville before it is too late.
Produced by Original Theatre Company and Octagon Theatre Bolton, this adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic story of intrigue, mystery and hidden identities was seen up and down the country recently in a new UK Tour and has now came roaming into our own homes thanks to Original Theatre Online. Filmed in front of a live audience at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre, this comedy retelling stars a small but perfectly formed three people cast who effortlessly switch between characters to tell the famous tale. Jake Ferretti plays the world-famous detective Sherlock Holmes (and other roles), with Serena Manteghi as Sir Henry Baskerville (and other roles) and Niall Ransome as Dr Watson (and other roles). Between them they become the eccentric Stapleton’s, the mysterious Barrymore’s, Dr Mortimer, and a number of Dartmoor yokels alongside their main characters, completing quick changes with ease and making each character just as unique as the last.
As well as this being a completely new version of the beloved scary story, one that replaces scares with laughter, this production of The Hound of the Baskervilles also ventures beyond the norm. From the start, the show is deliciously self-aware with the three cast members breaking the fourth wall straight away and directly addressing the audience, something that they continue to do throughout. The cast introduce themselves and explain who plays who, warning the audience of the story’s scary themes and arguing amongst themselves about who is the lead, much to the delight of the audience who laugh along. The breaking of the fourth wall becomes particularly effective in the opening of act 2 with a fast-paced retelling of the first act after actor Jake Ferretti claims to have received a tweet in the interval about his performance.
As the character we all know and love, Jake Ferretti’s Sherlock is proud and confident, claiming to be the best detective in the world and delighting in correcting his companion Watson’s every mistake. When it comes to solving mysterious, he is as smart as one would expect, but this production also explores his softer side, highlighting the struggles he has with expressing himself emotionally, much to Watson’s disappointment as he wants nothing more than to please and prove himself worthy of the great detective’s appreciation. As many other characters, including both Stapleton’s and both Barrymore’s, Ferretti has the audience in stitches with his quick changes and conversations with himself.
As Sir Henry Baskerville, sole survivor of the Baskerville legacy, along with a London cabbie, Dr Mortimer, Sir Charles Baskerville and three yokels, Serena Manteghi displays a natural flair for old school slapstick comedy, adding something unique to every character and smiling her way through a number of very quick costume changes. Her and Niall Ransome as Dr Watson are a force to be reckoned with, a wonderful double act have the audience laughing throughout as they bond and joke their way through the investigation.
Described in the programme by Ransome himself as ‘a total idiot’ who has ‘a real puppy dog loyalty’, it is impossible not to love Dr Watson in this production and easy to love Niall Ransome’s take on the famous character. Appearing in nearly every scene, Ransome’s undying energy earns many a cheer from the audience as he bonds with Manteghi’s Sir Henry and tries his best to solve the case on Sherlock’s behalf, even though he may not be the brightest at times. This Watson is devoted, loyal and determined and throughout we see his story change from an attempt to solve the mystery more to an attempt to help his friends and to please Sherlock.
Whilst this is well and truly a comedy retelling, twisting the story and packing in the laughter, the key elements of the story of The Hound of the Baskervilles are not lost within the prat falls, quick changes, and giggles. The mystery remains thrilling, even when told by larger-than-life characters as the audience are faced with the countless unanswered questions, the missing puzzle pieces, and the romance that the original story is famous for. David Woodhead’s set is incredibly effective, with just a backdrop of the Baskerville ancestorial home, a door, a fireplace, a bush, a fence and a desk forming the entire set, with the desk becoming a train carriage, a steam room and the moors themselves, which leaves plenty to the imagination of the captivated audience.
Overall, Original Theatre’s The Hound of the Baskervilles is pure showcase of comedy prowess, with all three cast members proving themselves to be masters of the craft. The classic tale is given an hilarious makeover, complete with tangos, dummies, many quick changes, and an inability to focus when hungry which I am sure many could relate too. A must see for comedy fans.
The Hound of the Baskervilles is available to watch online until 31st July. You can book tickets here https://originaltheatreonline.com
Images found via Google, not my own