The Hound of the Baskervilles

Date 25th May 2023
Society The Green Room Theatre, Wilmslow
Venue The Green Room Theatre, Wilmslow
Type of Production Play
Director John Chidgey
Written By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, adapted by Steven Canny and John Nicholson

Report

Author: Steph Niland

Steven Canny and John Nicholson’s adaptation of, and humorous take on, one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s best-known tales, sticks to the original plot in the main but comes with a farcical twist and is anarchically retold as an energetic triple hander.  

It relies on a game cast, strong characterisation, a tenacious memory on the part of the three actors and some ingenuity in direction and staging. The Green Room lends itself brilliantly to this type of production of minimal set, small cast, and multiple interesting entrances.

It opened with a made-to-shock sound effect and an audience address which immediately set the tone of the piece, followed quickly by a comical death and a physical spotlight gag. This ilk of gags, the likes of which peppered the whole play, were highly appreciated by the audience – the train journey, sauna scene, bags of animals, bed shenanigans etc.

Charlie Cook’s sardonic, laid-back Act 1 Sherlock was knowing and smug and it contrasted nicely with the frenetic energy he displayed in Act 2. His female characterisation was engaging and amusing, as was his hermit. Commendable quick changes and a twinkle throughout – well done!

Sir Henry Baskerville and a variety of other roles were taken on by the capable Carys Jones. A crystal clear and earnest delivery meant the audience didn’t miss a syllable or, therefore, any plot twist in the winding tale. Cerys’ expressive face and enthusiasm is infectious, and the audience clearly enjoyed watching her on the stage as much as she enjoyed occupying it.

Lorna Kong’s well-crafted Watson was a joy. The facial expressions, pauses, handle on comic timing was tremendous. The smaller supporting roles taken on with ease. The audience felt safe in Lorna’s presence on stage, and extra pleasure came from how straight and sincere the execution was – showing great judgement and understanding of this genre. Congratulations.

Director, John Chidgey, I am sure had a blast with this motivated and enthused team, and a headache working out the intricacies of the characters and plot points.  

As always at The Green Room, the scene changes are meticulously choreographed, or if not, the ethos so instilled in its members so as to become part of the performance and the ASMs, Christine Unwin and Victoria Johnson, carried out their (sometimes rapid) duties in military fashion.

This adaptation by Steven Canny and John Nicholson respects the original text, with a dash of the absurd and lashings of frenzied fun. Yes, there were increasingly slapdash costume changes, with reluctant skirts and the odd fluffed line or partial corpse, but all is forgiven in shows like this or indeed, in a way, sought. There are many adaptations of this famous narrative, and this is a lovely, entertaining addition to the collection. A delightful, ridiculous evening out.