Gail Golden Reviews

Theatre Review: ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ at The Shaw Festival

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Ric Reid and Damien Atkins in “The Hound of the Baskervilles” at The Shaw Festival. Photo my Emily Cooper.

“The Hound of the Baskervilles”, currently playing at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, is adapted from the famous novella by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is one of the most suspenseful Sherlock Holmes stories. In addition to murder and mystery, there is a supernatural element. Many Sherlockians consider “Hound” the finest of all stories about the world’s greatest detective.

. . . a very pleasant and imaginative production. . .

In this classic Sherlock case, Holmes and Watson venture from their “digs” at 221 B Baker Street to the desolate Devon moor to investigate strange doings, including an escaped convict, a possible murder, and a ferocious hound from hell. This adaptation by R. Hamilton Wright and David Pichette is basically faithful to the Sherlock Holmes Canon with one notable exception – the ending. The adapters have added a dramatic and surprising plot twist, but it leaves one puzzled. I won’t give anything away, but, in lieu of an earlier scene in the play (which is taken directly from the original text), this new ending doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  

This liberty with the traditional story doesn’t spoil the production, however, by any means. This is a breezy, irreverent adaptation with plenty of humor and a nice brisk pace – especially when Damien Atkins, with his quirky, quicksilver, tongue in cheek portrayal of Holmes, is center stage. Atkins is admirably supported by Ric Reid as the stalwart and often beleaguered Dr. Watson.

The entire cast is solid. Standouts include Kristopher Bowman as the affable Hank Baskerville, Claire Jullien who is delightful as Mrs. Hudson, and Natasha Mumba who plays the many faceted Beryl Stapleton.

The proceedings are directed in an appropriately melodramatic vein by Craig Hall, and there are plenty of inventive and humorous touches. The production is enhanced enormously by breath-taking projections by Jamie Nesbitt and a gorgeous, evocative musical score by John Gzowski. The scenery moves on and off stage in a fluid, almost magical, way, and the optical illusion created when the characters go into the cellar got applause! There are technical wonders on that stage!

“The Hound of the Baskervilles” at the Shaw’s Festival Theatre is a very pleasant and imaginative production, perfect for summertime fun, and suitable for children over 10 years old and the whole family.

Running Time: 2 hours and 50 minutes with two intermissions.

“The Hound of the Baskervilles” runs until October 27, 2018 and is presented at The Shaw Festival in Niagara-On-The-Lake in Ontario. For more information, click here.