The Hound of the Baskervilles

Date 18th June 2022
Society Abbey Community Theatre
Venue Abbey Centre Northampton
Type of Production Play
Director Sue Cato
Producer Lynne Yates
Written By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Report

Author: Keith Loynes

“To be able to cast three great actors in the main roles but had no idea how well they would work together. The energy and subtlety that they bring to this, sometimes bonkers, script has been a revelation and a joy”

That was written by Sue Cato in the programme and it sums up this evening’s entertainment.

Think, Mrs Brown’s Boys meets The Marx Brothers!

The three main actors Daniel Burrows  ( Sherlock Holmes, Stapleton, Cecile, The Hermit, & Himself ) Jack Dawson ( Dr Watson & Himself ) and John Williams ( Sir Charles Baskerville, Sir Henry Baskerville & Himself) start the show by casually discussing the play as themselves, cheerfully pointing out that whilst there are dark forces at work no audience members had died… yet.

At different times the action takes place on the stage of the Abbey Centre (as themselves) then, Baker Street, a Sauna, taxi cab, train carriage, the moor & Baskerville Hall.

They and the entire cast and technical team demonstrated great comic timing, even the imaginary squeaky gate.

The stress of their situation causes John Williams to have another attack of nerves, which sends him screaming from the auditorium.  At which point Jack Dawson announced that it would be a good time to take a break and recommended an interval.   

After the interval the three men start with an apology and John Williams assures us that all is well but throughout Daniel Burrows is showing considerable signs of agitation. It transpires that he has seen an entry on Facebook. Apparently, a member of the audience has posted that his delivery throughout the first act was too slow and generally criticised his sluggish performance. As his annoyance mounts he decides, despite the protestations of his companions, “we’ll do the first act again”

What followed was hilarious. The entire cast, somehow managed to rush through the first act in around five minutes without missing any of the key points. Lights up, lights down costume changes (almost in some cases) props rushed on and immediately rushed off again. Daniel Burrows eventually brings things back to normal speed by screaming at the audience member that had posted the negative comment. “HAPPY NOW” Brilliant!

The second act sees the gradual unravelling of the clues and another terrific scene at Baskerville Hall with Holmes & Watson looking at all the Baskerville family portraits hanging on the wall. This is achieved by John Williams running from side to side of the stage, posing with an empty picture frame.

This play is clearly incredibly well written but without a cast and crew capable of meeting its demands, it could fail disastrously. It had high energy and great subtlety. Why make a speech when a sideways glance, delivered well is just as funny. I’m also a fan of throw away lines, like “we’ve only got three plates”

Thank you all for a wonderful evening!