For many families, Christmas means that along with decorations, presents, too much food and the Dr Who Christmas special, there is the annual trip to the theatre to see a well-known face appearing in one of the many pantomimes currently in theatres up and down the country. That’s all well and good but, if you fancy taking your family to something a little different this festive season, then I would definitely recommend you head off to the Jack Studio Theatre and go and see their Christmas offering The Hound of the Baskervilles.
If you don’t know the story, the The Hound of the Baskervilles concerns the curse of the Baskerville family which appears ready to work its evil way on Sir Henry Baskerville (Andrew Fitch) unless there is some skillful detective work by Mr Sherlock Holmes (Joey Bartram) and his erstwhile companion and assistant Doctor John Watson (Adam Elliott). Set in and around the eerie forbidding area of Dartmoor, The Hound of the Baskervilles is a dark story of horror, fear, murder, revenge and so much more as Holmes and Watson race against time to save Sir Henry from the curse of his family name.
So, reading the above I have a feeling you will be scratching your heads and wondering if I have had one mulled wine too many in suggesting that The Hound of the Baskervilles would be a great family outing this Christmas. Let me reassure you, this version of the famous book is something that you will have never seen before. Without giving too much away – this is a spoiler free zone – whilst this production does cover the entire plot of The Hound of the Baskervilles it does so in a pretty unique and, at times downright hilarious way. The adaptation by Steven Canny and John Nicholson is extremely good and carries the audience along on a tidal wave of humour that stretches from laugh-out-loud moments to some of the worst punning seen outside of a Christmas cracker.
Director Kate Bannister has put together an extremely good show with a fine cast who really inhabit all of their various roles – again I don’t want to give too much away – and work superbly together, throughout the entire performance – even resorting to some lovely ad-libbing when necessary. The cast really seem to be enjoying themselves and come across as charming chaps who you wouldn’t mind having a pint with in the pub. Michael Edwards’ lighting, together with Philip Matejtschuk’s sound, works well with Karl Swinyard’s versatile set to make the Jack’s stage seem much bigger than it is and bring the various settings for the story to life. And a big shout out to Martin Robinson who has produced a wonderful set of era and character authentic costumes.
So, what more can I say about The Hound of the Baskervilles? In reality, if I want to avoid giving too much away, there’s not much. I will say that the show is really enjoyable, great fun and if I’m honest, completely bonkers. Somehow it keeps all the good – and some of the scary – things from the original Conan Doyle novel and adds a wonderful touch of Christmas spirit to turn this dark and haunting murder mystery into a very family friendly and highly entertaining family show. One word of advice, don’t tweet about the show until the whole play is over.
Review by Terry Eastham
The Hound of the Baskervilles
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
adapted by Steven Canny & John Nicholson
Sir Charles Baskerville is dead. Discovered next to his body are the paw prints of a gigantic hound.
Enter the celebrated detective Sherlock Holmes and his faithful assistant, Doctor Watson, summoned to unravel the mystery surrounding Sir Charles’s death and protect Sir Henry, the Baskerville estate’s young heir.
Through encounters with suspicious butlers, escaped convicts, and damsels in distress, Holmes and Watson must piece the evidence together, and solve the chilling case before the deadly Baskerville curse strikes again.
Join us at the Jack this Christmas for a fast, funny and furious retelling of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s spine-tingling classic. Presented by the Jack Studio Theatre, The Hound of the Baskervilles is produced by the same team behind the sell-out productions of The Haunting, Ghost Train and The Mystery of Irma Vep. Early booking is advised!
Tues 13 December 2016 to Sat 7 January 2017 at 7.45pm
Brockley Jack Studio Theatre