Review by Brian Godfrey

In the past month or so, Adelaide has had its share of Holmes-grown Sherlockery. During the Fringe we were treated to two one-person dramatic shows about the Great Detective and his companion and scribe and now The Adelaide Rep treat us to basically a melodramatic comedy entitled Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery.

Ken Ludwig’s play is quite a faithful but playful version of Sir Arthur Conan’s classic Sherlock Holmes adventure, The Hound Of The Baskervilles. The story concerns Holmes and Watson being called in to investigate the mysterious death of Sir Charles Baskerville in Devonshire at the hands or rather paws, supposedly, of a giant glowing beast lurking in the murky mists of the Moors. They must try to uncover the mystery before the heir to the Baskerville estate, Sir Henry Baskerville, is the next gristly victim.

Under the direction of Geoff Brittain with Olivia Jane Parker ably assisting him, this production comes alive with Victorian English atmosphere (hitting the audience the moment they enter the auditorium), mystery and loads of very funny shtick. Look out for some comedy gold moments in Act Two concerning a sheep (which steals the show) and a very funny and clever moment involving a life-size portrait.

The atmosphere of the whole piece is beautifully added to by the Electronic Artist and Musician, Michael Diakomichalis using electronic instruments such as the theremin to evoke the eerie sounds required. Although, they tend to be a little loud in one of the heavy dialogue moments in Act Two. He even doubles as the Foley (Sound Effects) man in another comic gem of a moment.

As Sherlock Holmes, Andrew Horwood manages to capture a lot of the Great Detective’s character traits. He certainly had the swagger but did not seem to have the confidence or conceit that one (especially this Holmesophile) expects. And on Opening Night he seemed somewhat nervous. On the other hand, Sam Wiseman had Dr Watson’s pomposity, whilst exuding a likability factor, down pat. Together Wiseman and Horwood worked well together. But, they are definitely the ‘straight men’ of this show.

The real stars of this production are Anita Zamberlan Canala, Thomas Midena and Kim Clark. Between the three of them they play 34 characters – male, female and animals: Canala, 14 characters; Midena, 13 characters; Clark, 7 characters. Each character is completely different with very distinct accents. Each one is equally hilarious and well shaped. Thanks to their speed and energy they make you forget that there are only three of them. Hats, wigs and costumes off to Canala, Midena and Clark – phenomenal work from all!!

To that end, Gilian Cordell (Costumes), Kathryn Stevens (Wigs) and the Dressers (who unfortunately are not mentioned in the programme) need to take an extremely well earned bow. The changes in particular are incredible – there are times when an actor will exit one side of the stage and enter from the other side of stage as a completely different character in what seems a second.

The Rep’s first show for 2024 is a guaranteed fun and very entertaining time at the theatre. It’s elementary that you should go whilst the ‘game is afoot’.

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