Ian Waller and his ten-year-old daughter enjoyed an excellent production of The Hound of The Baskerville at the egg theatre in Bath. Here’s what he thought.
The game’s afoot with an all-new adaptation of the classic tale of The Hound of the Baskerville which opened last night at the egg theatre and runs until Sunday 28 August.
As soon as my ten-year-old daughter and I arrived, it was clear that this wasn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill production. While seats were available, most of the audience made the most of the picnic blankets strewn over the freshly-laid turf that covered the enlarged stage area, taking us all to 19th century Dartmoor along with our heroes as they strove to solve this most mystifying and terrifying of cases.
But the new experiences didn’t end with the innovative set. Here was a production that introduces any number of new plot turns and twists into this previously well-known mystery, with no turn being bigger than Holmes and Watson transformation into heroines rather than heroes – Miss Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Jane Watson no less – allowing the writer, 16-year-old Milo Morris, to present what he describes as ‘a Holmes for all people my age.’
Presented by the cast and crew of the the TRB TheatreSchool Summer Company, The Hound of the Baskervilles regularly saw the stage area occupied with the 28 performers, all aged between 12 and 18, at any one time. The result is impressively entertaining with stand-out performances and a clever combination of drama, comedy and yes, just a touch of old-school scariness.
This production sees Holmes (Amelia Melvin) and Watson (Natasha Du Prez) arriving at Baskerville Hall together, accompanied by Inspector Lestrade (Luke Ashley) and Sir Henry Baskerville (Patrick Withey). The full horror of the story of the hound soon becomes apparent, but can our heroes discover who is behind the grizzly happening before Sir Henry becomes the latest victim? Throughout Melvin gives Holmes a particularly sassy, confident edge, introducing a feminist element into the detective’s typically aloof character that well suits the gender-swap roles. Patrick Withey, meanwhile, as Sir Henry, captures the naively adventurous American perfectly.
For me though the stand-out performances came from a few of the smaller parts. Lily Potter delivers a wonderfully comic performance as the inept Chief Inspector Tobias Gregson, while Yves Morris’s soliloquy as Selden the convict, trapped on the moors and hunted by both the police and hound, is heartfelt and very effective.
But in truth this is very much an ensemble piece, with talented cast even taking on the parts of a steam train, a wagon and horses, even the Grimpen Mire itself as it threatens to entrap any poor passing walker. Throughout it is hugely entertaining and impressively professional performance and when you consider that the whole production was put together in just a few weeks, it is a real success.