THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle adapted by Clive Francis.
A Coliseum Theatre and IMITATING THE DOG Production Tour To 19 May 2012.
Runs 2hr 10min One interval.
Review: Stoon 15 March 2012 at Lawrence Batley Theatre Huddersfield.
Imitating The Dog proves the sincerest form of flattery.
Multimedia remains a buzzword in theatre. The Coliseum’s co-producers, the aptly named visual design specialists imitating the dog, prove their hound credentials to be high pedigree. Not only is the quality and innovation of their output worthy of Top Breeder recommendation, the seamless integration with the traditional theatre element hallmarks this as 24 carat.
Were such sterling canine achievement matched by human contribution, this would be a peerless production. But there’s a sense of directorial check which fails to exploit the risqué undertone of this sweetly frolicking adaptation. You can’t blame Kevin Shaw for playing it stiff-upper-lip safe (for Holmes think Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster), yet it makes for uneven viewing –best in act 1 when Holmes and Watson engage in a battle of analytical wits. In contrast the opening multi-narration is uninspired Talking Heads and the second act passes by too easily with Holmes largely AWOL.
Still the slightest undercurrent of subversion remains, akin to a diluted version of The Coliseum’s madcap Travels With My Aunt, where characters gloriously ran amok. Not a case of who, but rather why didn’t they let the dogs out?
It’s the lofty heights scaled by the design platform which brands this unmissable. Hauntingly cinematic at times, with wonderful depictions of train journeys, Baker St, Moors and a scarily gothic Baskerville Hall built from the very rubble of the House of Usher with a gallery to match. The projected conveyance of what actors are reading, speaking or writing is standout – scarily so, such is the absolute harmony sensed between man and VT. Even some snooker showboating’s forgiven given the accompanying projected commentary.
Effectively in preview, so time aplenty to sort syncing issues and silence sliding doors. It won’t take to all venues as sweetly as in Oldham, which may affect viewing. As with Hugo 3D, go see for the benchmark visuals and accept it isn’t necessary for the rest to measure up.
Sherlock Holmes: Gwynfor Jones.
Doctor Watson: Leigh Symonds.
Sir Henry Baskerville: Robin Simpson.
Mortimer: Steven O’Neill.
Mrs Hudson: Amy Ewbank.
Director: Kevin Shaw.
Designer: Michael Spencer.
Lighting: Andrew Crofts, Andrew Quick.
Composer: James Hamilton.
Video/Visual Design: Simon Wainwright.
Costume: Heather Bagley.
Dramaturg: Andrew Quick.