Baskerville – A Sherlock Holmes Mystery review at Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool – ‘hugely funny’
Ken Ludwig’s take on Conan Doyle’s most famous mystery story is given crack-shot treatment here under Loveday Ingram’s direction.
With five actors playing 42 characters, this is bound to be funny stuff, but it’s a huge technical challenge due to the numerous scene changes. To facilitate this, the design team have relied heavily on lavishly animated video projection to complement the physical scenery.
Two actors take on the individual roles of Holmes and Watson, whilst the remaining three achieve a near-impossible number of costume changes, many in full view, with a magician’s sleight of hand. Jay Taylor’s Holmes sits on a knife-edge between serious delivery and caricature, while Patrick Robinson gets a more than usually active part as his trusty diarist, Watson. The remaining three players are hugely funny in their array of vocal characterisations that accompany the many disguises.
The whole thing looks deceptively simple in its slick and fast-paced delivery, but the stage crew must have a job on their hands delivering the ever-changing world that the intrepid cast inhabit.
This is Conan Doyle meets The 39 Steps and very nearly Scooby Doo, and the big surprise is that amidst all the tom-foolery it sticks startlingly close to the original storyline.
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