Who says a time-honored literary work has to be a serious drama on stage? No one. Ever.
Ken Ludwig’s “Baskerville” A Sherlock Holmes (Comic) Mystery , produced by MusicalFare, is onstage now at Shea’s 710 Theatre and it’s a flat out hoot. You know you’re in for a treat when two performances are added to the run long before opening night. Yes, it’s that funny.
. . .a flat out hoot.
It’s the classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story with Holmes (masterfully played by Todd Benzin) playing it straight as the master solver of all crimes. Holmes and faithful companion Dr. Watson (Chris J. Handley) are told of a frightening series of events on the foggy moors. A creature with a resonant howl and giant footprints is scaring the bejeebers out of the locals, according to Dr. Mortimer, one of several roles played by Marc Sacco, who also shares the sad Baskerville saga. So the investigation begins. While Holmes and Watson are on the prowl, it’s Sacco and castmates Patrick Cameron and Maria Droz who morph in and out of more than three dozen characters. This is the real show within the show. With a flip of cap a man becomes a woman. Doff the dress and you’re a Castilian hotel desk clerk (the lisp and the accent are a stitch). It’s flurry of wigs, hats, props, and costumes that fly on and off, sometimes on stage in a sleight of hand that’s magical to watch.
Kari Drozd and Susan Drozd must have had a blast wrangling all these bits and pieces. The cast sure had a frenetically good time getting dressed, undressed, and over-dressed. This is a really physical show, too, full of funny details. Watch as Maria Droz flies a bird at a propitious moment and as Patrick Cameron – as a deceased Baskervillian – flips his dead body over.
Lynn Koscielniak’s set is simple and strangely effective. There’s a mysterious black box effect downstage and a series of moveable risers that function as set pieces throughout. The whole house is really part of the set as actors roam the theatre and lights and smog follow. The black stage and white crisscrosses (metaphors for the web of deceit, perhaps) are mesmerizing, as are the Holmes quotes scripted across the floor. Don’t be too curious: even after the performance ends, if you step on stage to piece together the words, you’ll be reminded to exit.
“Baskerville” is one wild romp of fast paced fun and frolic. The slow steady pace of Benzin, the soft-sell sidekick of Handley, and zaniness of this uber-talented cast make this a night to howl at the theatre. Hang on to your deerstalker and catch this show before May 19!
Running Time: 2 hours with an intermission.
Advisory: Black lights and strobe lights are used.
Ken Ludwig’s “Baskerville” A Sherlock Holmes Mystery runs until May 19, 2018, is produced by MusicalFare Theatre, and is presented at Shea’s 710 Theatre. For more information, click here.