Thursday, May 31, 2018

THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES


Adapted by F. Andrew Leslie from the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Tempo Theatre
Directed by Kim Wilson
Belconnen Community Theatre to June 2

Reviewed by Len Power 25 May 2018


‘The Hound Of the Baskervilles’, featuring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s master detective, Sherlock Holmes, has had numerous cinema, radio and theatre adaptations since it was first published in 1902.

Holmes and his faithful companion, Dr. Watson, investigate the death of Sir Charles Baskerville at his estate in Devon.  Sir Charles appears to have fallen victim to a family curse in which his ancestor, Sir Hugo, was killed by a giant hound, possibly of supernatural origin.

Tempo’s production, directed by Kim Wilson, has some nice performances from the cast of nine.  Peter Fock is a fine Dr. Watson, capturing the period style and character very well.  Phillip Meddows has the right physical look as Sherlock Holmes and plays him with an amusing haughtiness.

Sir Henry Baskerville is played by Daniel Berthon with the confidence and style that gives him believability as an aristocrat.  The other actors in the supporting roles all give nicely drawn characterisations.  Some of the less-experienced performers need to learn to project their voices and take more care with their diction.

Producing this adaptation is a challenge as the action has to move from Holmes’ chambers in Baker Street, London, to Baskerville Hall in Devon.  With the limited staging facilities available at the Belconnen Theatre, the director has understandably opted not to change the set for the different scene.  This might be confusing for audience members who don’t have a program.

American, F. Andrew Leslie, has written an uninspiring adaptation.  There is very little action and too much exposition by characters onstage telling us what happened off-stage or in the past.  It sounded more like a radio play but it was written for stage performance.

Director, Kim Wilson, kept the pace going nicely and the actors picked up their cues quickly but it’s a very static production and he needed to find more ways to break up the long conversation sequences.

In spite of the adaptation’s flaws, this Sherlock Holmes story is ingenious and Tempo has given it an entertaining production.

This review was first published in the Canberra City News digital edition of 26 May.

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on his ‘On Stage’ performing arts radio program on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3.30pm on Artsound FM 92.7.

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