The Hound of the Baskervilles review at the Commandery, Worcester – ‘irresistibly theatrical’
This year’s Worcester Repertory Theatre’s outdoor performance at the Commandery is an outrageous satirical spoof, reminiscent in many ways of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound.
Author/director Chris Jaeger’s wickedly irreverent take on the Arthur Conan Doyle classic The Hound of the Baskervilles pumps up its inherent absurdities in the style of fatuously frenetic parodic Victorian melodrama: utterly preposterous plotting, verbal and visual gags galore, hysterical histrionics and hyperactive hamdrammery, performed with pace, panache and deadpan, dead-eyed accuracy.
Jaeger’s production is well served by an excellent cast, a gallery of perfectly controlled caricatures, well tuned to this reductio ad absurdum romp.
Ben Humphrey’s Holmes is a gem of self-celebrating cerebral sleuthing – even a couple of stray first night squirrels failed to upstage him. John-Robert Partridge plays Dr Watson with impregnably dim-witted devotion and melodramatic myopia. As a beacon of proverbial sanity, Liz Grand’s Mrs Hudson is a constant reproach to the two men. Murray Andrews is suitably sagacious as Charles and Sir Henry Baskerville.
The satirical targets are expertly chosen and adroitly hit and the production as a whole is hugely enjoyable.