“this is a delightful, funny and heart-warming play to watch whether you are a Sherlock fanatic or just looking for a moment of light-hearted escapism”

A refreshing remake of the classic Arthur Conan Doyle mystery, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson takes its audience on an eerie, and at times comedic, journey as they attempt to unravel the mystery surrounding the sudden, inexplicable death of the old resident of Baskerville Hall. Too busy (and bored!) with his current cases at 221B Baker Street, Sherlock sends Watson to the dreary plains of Devonshire to investigate the situation and while meeting the eclectic locals and their servants, discovers that there might be more mysteries lurking in the moors beyond the Hounds who haunts the landscapes. 

‘The game is afoot!’, Watson says to himself with sarcastic exasperation, perfectly encapsulating the tone of The Hounds of the Baskervilles, as it mixes comedy and crime, laughter and shock. Directed by Eleanor Thornton, the production was a sensational refreshment of the popular Conan Doyle mystery, with the hilarious rapport and dynamic between the characters successfully brings to life a whodunit that is definitely more comedic than it is mysterious!

From the very beginning, the charismatic actors show off their talent not only through their own performances but also through the synergy between the characters. The iconic dynamic between Sherlock and Watson, of course, remains incredibly memorable as Stephen Ledger and James Porter perfect the nuanced but endearing brotherhood and friendship between the iconic duo. Albeit overwhelmed by male characters, a phenomenal talent that must be mentioned is Hannah Lydon as Beryl Stapleton, whose dramatic and engaging acting captured the attention of the entire audience every time she was on stage. Overall, as each actor shined in their individual stage presence, it is the wonderful synergy they created through movements and voices that remained prevalent throughout the production.

Lighting, designed by Theo Nellis, was also used effectively as it captured the mood of the scene appropriately, with warm, cosy lighting brightening the mood of dinner parties, and singular, cold lighting for the eerie and mysterious scenes. Even though the beautiful Victorian setting, created by Ellen Olley and Anna Hayward, served as the perfect location for both 221B Baker Street and Baskerville Hall, a more notable prop is the malleable use of the painting in Baskerville Hall, which served as both a set decoration and became an important part in the storytelling. Despite a few minor errors with set transitions, these were fixed so quickly that it almost seemed fitting that a whodunit stage is met with a few challenges. 

Nevertheless, although many in the audience might be familiar with the story, it is the outstanding comedic flair that the cast brings to the production that reminds one the joys of a whodunit performed live. Finally, if the frequent laughter, claps, ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ throughout the play was any indication of the audience satisfaction, I believe that this is a delightful, funny and heart-warming play to watch whether you are a Sherlock fanatic or just looking for a moment of light-hearted escapism. 

By a Durham University student

The Hound of the Baskervilles is performing at the Assembly Rooms theatre until 3rd December

Photo credits: DUCT