Theatre Review: THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES – The Lowry, Salford


Played fast and loose, THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES may not convince loyal Sherlock Holmes fans but you can’t fault it for entertainment

It’s been over 130 years since Sherlock Holmes first appeared in A STUDY IN SCARLET but the fictional private detective remains as popular as ever, as demonstrated by the packed auditorium for Northern Rep’s fast-paced version of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES.

Based loosely on classic mystery by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES sees the famous private detective Sherlock Holmes and his incomparable sidekick Dr Jane Watson as they journey from London to the Devonshire Moors to solve the mystery of a legendary supernatural hound who stalks the moors at night, killing members of the wealthy Baskerville family. Fresh from solving the case, Holmes and Watson invite a group of friends into the intimate drawing room of 221b Baker Street to share their far-fetched tale and poke fun at the mystery and melodrama of the Moor.

Those expecting a faithful and straight-laced retelling of this classic tale are in for a shock. Described as a “fast-paced farce”, this inventive comedy features two actors playing every role (totalling around 15 different characters) who use all of the tricks in their arsenal to convey the far-fetched tale. The duo blister through the piece, their characters becoming increasingly outrageous as the story develops, as they deliver the engaging and superbly silly piece.

Yet, while the duo are clearly a talented pair, Thomas Moore’ adaptation does feel a little clunky at times. Big chunks of text has been lifted from the original source novel and when spoken aloud, is incredibly wordy and difficult to follow.

Played fast and loose, the convoluted plot also becomes more incoherent as the play develops and unless you are familiar with the original story, you’re likely to leave the theatre not really knowing who killed who, how and why.

That said, as with any farce, the plot is really secondary to all the chaos and silliness, the cast using slapstick, physical comedy and a script packed full of so many double entendres that you’d think you were watching a Carry On film.

Loyal Sherlock Holmes fans may not be entirely convinced but you can’t fault THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES for entertainment.

3.5 out of 5 stars

THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES performed at The Lowry, Salford on 28 October 2018