Association of Community Theatre
THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
directed by David Ward
Adapted by Steven Canny & John Nicholson from the original by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I want you to consider, a missing shoe, a pair of trousers, a family portrait and a hound. From this you have all that you need to solve this Victorian whodunit. based upon the popular Sherlock Holmes tale.
This was the last play of the season for the company, and what an ending! This three-hand adaptation was hilarious. The secret of this was that it was directed at a great pace and it had energy.
Director, David Ward, had really thought about how to keep the play moving along swiftly so that none of the pace was allowed to slow down with big scene changes. The set was very simple in design, though I am sure it took considerable time to build, especially the hill that performers could climb on and over.
A back drop of the moors could be seen throughout but this did not detract from the different scenes as very minimal props had been made, to be moved to create the impressions of different place; a door for Holmes’ office, a fireplace for the house, a cut down pool table, and a picture frame all of which were on casters to aid scene change speed.
David Burns played the Dr Watson character, who had a permanent vacant expression on his face, indicating the total lack of understanding as to what has happened and what is going on. This all added to the madcap humour when he interacted with the other two players. Dr Watson was primarily his only character but he did double up as one of four Yokel’s at points in the play.
Chris Billingtons’ major role was that of the Canadian, Henry Baskerville, but he also had another four parts to play; Sir Charles Baskerville, Cabbie, Yokel and Wise Yokel. Each character had a persona of their own, all had a twinkle in their eye and a slight smile which made them all endearing.
Ian Wilkinson also played a plethora of parts, mainly that of the case solving Sherlock Holmes, but also a rail guard, a Yokel, Cecile, the villain Stapleton, the butler and his wife! Each character was different, changes of accent as well as costume additions so that each character was easily identified by the audience.
All three players contributed greatly to the overall smooth flow of this production. I especially enjoyed the recap of plot at the start of the second act completed at double speed with costume changes. I felt worn out for them by the end! The wardrobe department under Pam Lambert and Val Middleton-Egan were definitely worth their money in this production, aiding the frantic quick changes.
It was evident that a lot of hard work and rehearsal time had been spent in developing each scene, with entrances and exits being slick. Timings were perfect in every way and here I congratulate the sound department, under David Oliver, who was spot on with the sound cues, the walking on gravel, horse and carriage and, of course, the baying hound. He must never have looked away from the script throughout.
This was a feelgood play of suspense and laughs. Aspects of slap stick added to the fun throughout. Thank you for a lovely evening’s entertainment and hospitality.