Review by Shelley Hampton

If you are going to see Baskerville- A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, prepare yourself for something extraordinarily different! This clever spoof on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous Hound of the Baskervilles is a rollicking evening of theatre.  It has a very involved, hilarious plot which is brilliantly executed through twists, turns, farce and some of the best comic acting you will see in Adelaide. The Adelaide Repertory Theatre Company has done well with choosing this play and the director and cast do it immense justice.

It is an absolute romp from the first moment, (which of course is a murder) and moves across various locations- Sherlock’s Baker Street home to the moors of Devon and the menacing manor home of Sir Charles Baskerville.

The cast of five have been well chosen by Geoff Brittain and Olivia Jane Parker, and whilst the play is focused on Sherlock and Watson (Andrew Horwood and Sam Wiseman) as the sleuths who attempt to solve the murder, it is actually the other three actors- Anita Zamberlan Canala, Thomas Midena and Kim Clark that steal the show with their zany antics.

Andrew Horwood is solid and suitably caped and capped as Sherlock. He is witty and smooth talking and whilst he could benefit from a little more gravitas as the famous detective, his chemistry with Sam Wiseman is excellent. Wiseman is strong as Watson, at times narrating and at others participating in the action, very effectively. There are some very comic moments between the two actors, drawn out well by director Geoff Brittain.

The other three in the cast are talented and capable physical actors, who create around forty different characters with the help of many costume changes, wigs, hats, moustaches and accents. Whilst Clark plays mainly the Baskerville family members, the highlight of whom was a very reminiscent Yosemite Sam-type in a giant (yes BIG) Stetson, he also creates a wonderful Inspector Le Strade and not very likeable tobacconist. He is a versatile, very watchable actor. The other two actors- Canala and Midena are outstanding as they duck and weave, transforming themselves at great speed into various personas. These caricatures have us guffawing loudly. Highlights for this reviewer were Midena’s Castillian hotel clerk- hilarious and a portrait (you have to see it- brilliant). His multitude of impeccable accents and physicality also are superb. Canala has shown a side to her acting chops I have never seen before and kudos to her! She portrays so many characters of differing styles and genders, likewise with crazy accents (the German maid with her wobble-u’s is particularly hilarious).

All five actors work incredibly hard as an ensemble through ever-changing scenes, to bring a fluidity to the story. Opening night was a little lacking in pace but this will correct over time.

An aspect of this show which many audience members may not have realised is that some of the music was live. Composer/musician, Michael Diakomichalis, cleverly creates the moods of the play using electronically synthesised sounds, digital recordings, and plays live, wonderful ‘Doctor Who- like sounds’ using a Theremin.

The sets are designed and produced by Geoff Brittain and the black and white drawings emphasised both the chaos of the show and its eeriness. One scene, I felt was anachronistic after charcoal drawings was the interior of the manor which was suddenly a colour image. The trucks and flys used on stage were effective, however I felt that the Baker Street set being on stage all of Act 1 minimised the use of the rest of the stage and created confusion around location.

Costumes, wigs and accessories by Gillian Cordell and Kathryn Stevens were period- perfect and gave rise to much joy from the audience. Lighting by Richard Parkhill was clever- highlighting dramatic scenes and creating mood well.

Baskerville – A Sherlock Holmes Mystery is a fun night at the theatre and for purists, whilst being incredibly silly, does follow the original story very closely. Adelaide Rep has a hit on its hands, as the enthusiastic applause on opening night indicated.

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