‘The Hound of the Baskervilles – a comic thriller starring Shirley Holmes and Jennie Watson’. This is a fun-filled, easy to follow take-off which has been adapted by Kent R. Brown from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous novel. This 2010 comedy will bring a smile to faces of everyone from 10 to a 100. Kent R. Brown has written several similar madcap shows based on famous books or films, such as ‘American Beauty’.
This production is suitable for young teenagers upwards and is being presented by the enthusiastic Garrick Theatre Teen Group – with a little help from a few adults.
The 2-hour show (including interval) is at the Garrick Theatre, 16 Meadow Street, Guildford and has curtain up at the earlier time of 7.30 pm. with shows each evening from 17th September to 3rd October. Once again, the number of tickets has been reduced by Covid to only 29 but there are 14 performances ALL of which are already SOLD OUT. So please do not risk trying to buy a ticket at the door; instead, telephone Elaine on 9378-1990 for any cancellations.
The Scene: 1889 in London and the south west of England.
The Set: Designed by Rodney Stickells-Palmer, the stage has been completely cleared. The artistically painted (Gail Lusted, Adam Giltrow) side walls depict the marshes of Dartmoor and the rear wall shows the Baskerville Hall exterior.
Construction of set: The cast started rehearsals months ago, then Covid arrived; combined with year 12 exams the cast has been in a state of flux. Several cast members had to withdraw, and new actors trained. Those who have helped include James Nailen, Jodie Poole, Susan Harapeet, Ben Lock, Michelle Compton and Harry Compton. The second team were Matthew Roberts, Paris Jenner, Ella Thomas, Kayla Hirsch, Jess Popplewell, Patryk Smith, Kirsty Mangelsdorf, Laura Stegink and Natalia Smith.
The fine properties supplied by Roxanne Moore included a quality heraldic metal shield, with the face of a hound and a sword. The instantly recognisable oil portrait of Sir Hugo was painted by Ariannah Tilli. The Kabuki ghost masks were by Chris Knight. The numerous hilarious banners were the artwork of Michaela Oberlin-Brown.
Sound and Lighting design was by Geoff Holt, who was aided by Bailey Fellows, Rueben Fildes, Chelsea Knight, Caileb Hombergen-Crute and Stuart Ridgeway.
Chelsea Knight mentored Stage Manager, Saskia Henderson and her assistant Harry Compton. With such a large cast the handling and quick flow of exits and entrances worked very well. The scene shifting by Patrick Wade, Alex Wake and Ian Lusted was slick.
Sherlock Holmes and his faithful colleague, Dr. John Watson, have left on a prolonged holiday throughout Europe (This is 1920 and no Covid). They have left their nieces to keep an eye on their famous flat at 221B Baker Street. The young ladies are Shirley Holmes (Victoria ‘Tori’ Abbott), an astute and discerning law and philosophy student and her cousin, the trustworthy and gutsy Jennie Watson (Olivia Fellows), an analytical medical student.
The students are busy preparing for upcoming exams when there is a knock on the door. It is a countryside doctor, Dr. Maxine Mortimer (Michaela Oberlin Brown) and a distant North American relative, Sir Henry Baskerville (Walter Kundai Gotore). Sir Henry who has recently inherited the Baskerville fortune, has arrived in London to take up his post at Baskerville Hall; but he has already been intimidated by an anonymous note of warning and strangely the theft of a pair of shoes.
They have come to seek the assistance of the famous Sherlock Holmes. It seems that well-meaning philanthropist Sir Charles Baskerville (Robert McConnell) has become the most recent victim of the Curse of the Baskervilles has died a mysterious death – several times!!
Holmes and Watson quickly discover that Sir Henry Baskerville is being trailed whilst in London by a mysterious bearded stranger. Dr Mortimer then recounts the 100-year old myth of the lecherous scoundrel, Hugo Baskerville (Rhys Doak). Hugo and his two henchmen (Ellie Roenfeldt, Elizabeth O’Callaghan) captured and imprisoned a young country lass (Tegan Harris) at his estate in Devonshire. She escaped and as he pursued her along the lonesome moors late one night, frightening a shepherdess (Connie Holland) on his way, the cursed Hugo fell victim to a mysterious, supernatural black marauding hound of hell (Adam Giltrow)
Estate worker and carriage driver, Perkins (Samantha Compton) is unappreciated.
Dr Mortimer, who is also the executrix of the late Sir Charles’ Will, has rekindled suspicions and fears explains that young Sir Henry, the only surviving heir to the Baskerville fortune has received a threat against his life! Holmes is too busy in London to accompany Mortimer and Sir Henry back to Devonshire and so he sends Dr. Watson to be his eyes and ears, insisting that he report back regularly.
At Baskerville Manor Watson meets the old butler, Barrymore (Kody Fellows) and his wife the cook, Mrs Barrymore (Fiona Forster); they have long been the trusted family retainers of the Baskerville mansion. Mrs Barrymore’s lunatic brother, Selden (Blake Harapeet) lives in the wild.
A smart naturalist John Stapleton (Kailem Mollard) and his sister Dorothea (Karla Jones) are Baskerville’s neighbours. A mysterious young woman, Laura Lyons (Amy Lock) is in love with Stapleton.
As the tension and death toll rises Holmes calls upon the help of a young amateur sleuth, Victoria Lestrade (Helena Johnson). Can these hellish murders be solved?
Under the guidance of Natalia Smith, the top-notch ensemble moved well. The youngsters were well focused, well done Ariannah Tilli, Braeden Hamilton, Otis Hamilton, Phoebe Mills, Patrick Wake, Niamh Keelan-Wake and Dakota Horrigan-Owen.
The costumes covered everything from Holmes’s tweed Inverness cape (thankfully not the Belstaff Milford that Cumberbatch wore in his TV series) and a deerstalker hat. An excellent monster costume by Adam Giltrow. The ‘fun’ thick bushy beards being worn by the cast would give maximum protection against Covid.
The two directors, Rodney Stickells-Palmer and Gail Lusted, have huge theatre experience and this showed in their handling of the youngsters. There is often the odd stage-struck actor smiling at the audience or presenting a static, wooden performance – but NOT in this show. The interaction was natural, crowd scenes flowed well. Actors like Kody realised that ‘the walk’ often creates the personality.
Many of the cast had particularly good comedic delivery, adding dry dark humour to their performances. The four main characters were vastly different but exceptional and showed great chemistry.
The fascinating legend behind the Baskervilles is in the programme and well worth a read.
This is a youth production that would have some adult theatre groups jealous. Great fun, congratulations.