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A CurtainUp London Review
The Hound of the Baskervilles
The technique is fast action, spoof and slapstick. The tale is told with quirky sound effects and much mime. I loved the opening where we hear actors imitating the crunch, crunch of footsteps on the gravel, of an owl hooting, the barking of dogs and a man taking out a box of matches, rattling it and then striking one with gorgeous lighting effects. It is jokey and clever but is the joke good enough to carry a performance of two hours ten minutes?
The cast of three work incredibly hard with some very quick costume changes called for which form part of the hilarity. Javier Marzan plays the cerebral detective Holmes. He is tall and dark and looks the part but should we think this is a serious portrayal, his very un-English accent lulls us out of that particular complacency. However Javier's Spanish voice didn't disturb me as his characterisation conveys much of Holmes' mystery, authority and aplomb. The meeting with the Baskerville heir, Sir Henry (Jason Thorpe) takes place in the Turkish Baths before they all try to manoeuvre a path through the treacherous Devon bog without sinking into the mire. Jason Thorpe is particularly adept at walking behind the fireplace and seconds later emerging sans his plus fours. John Nicholson, also the writer, plays Dr Watson and tells us at the end that it is all "just smoke and mirrors."
In case you have lost the plot, following a petition from the audience for more clarity, the second act opens with a reprise of all of the first act in rapid time, complete with some of the costume changes in this rapid fire version. Javier plays the woman Sir Henry falls for and "her brother" Stapleton, and there is a gorgeous Tango scene where his partner is considerably shorter that the "lady". The whole is a rather silly evening for audiences who require little more than rib tickling fun. The tickets are cut price so no-one need feel they have paid full West End prices for this show which would have been better if it had been briefer. The Greek sounding company Peepolykus (People Like Us) have brilliant performers with excellent timing but for me the joke wore a trifle thin.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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