Westport, CT, Jul 16, 2012 — The Hound of the Baskervilles is running at the Depot Theatre in Westport through July 29. Resident theatre critic Connie Meng was at the opening night and has our review.
THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, in this adaptation by Steven Canny and John Nicholson, is a giddy and hilarious re-telling of the famous story by Arthur Conan Doyle. It’s told by only three actors, one of whom plays Dr. Watson throughout leaving the other two to play Sherlock Holmes, Sir Henry Baskerville and assorted butlers, hermits, femme fatales, etc. In case you miss anything in Act I, at the beginning of Act II the three do a condensed version of Act I at an insanely frenetic pace, leading to fun costume and prop mix-ups.
In this production, even the set is funny. Designer Jessica Parks has cleverly indicated the various locations, from Baker Street to the moors, complete with quicksand. The whole is framed by a proscenium arch with an elaborate “B” in the center. Wings conceal the countless costume changes. I particularly like the unusual bed.
Patricia Doherty’s costumes are very good, especially Cecile’s lacy dress and mantilla and Sir Henry’s breakaway trousers. Gary Burlew’s lighting is excellent, in particular the added touch of period footlights. I really like the cartoonish star drop and moon over the moor. Whoever’s responsible for the sound has done a fine job with the music, the horses and the click of the snooker ball.
The cast is all-round terrific and all three have incredible energy. I’d be curious to know how much weight they each lose during a performance. Jonathan Brody makes an excellent Dr. Watson and is a riot in the scene with the dummy. As Sir Henry and various other Baskervilles Kevin Sebastian is great, especially in the portrait scene and in the steam room.
Scott Schaefer makes a fine Sherlock Holmes and is hilarious as Cecile, complete with a Castilian accent. His prolonged death scene as Stapleton is very funny, and I love the tango scene with Cecile and Sir Henry dancing to Watson’s non-existent violin.
Director Mark Shanahan has done a fine job of staging and directing this wonderful piece of silliness. There are too many great bits to mention and I don’t want to spoil any surprises, but I love the trio’s dance out of the mire. This is a perfect play for a summer evening. Just go, laugh and enjoy yourself.
On a scale of one to five the Depot Theatre production of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES gets five boxcars. For North Country Public Radio I’m Connie Meng.