The Hound of the Baskervilles: Jellicoe Theatre Productions, Poole.
Forget Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, this is Victorian super-sleuth Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick Dr Watson as you have never seen them before.
Which is a little strange really as the characters are instantly recognisable. The trademark pipe, deerstalker, a splendid moustache and even a stethoscope are among the handful of props that help bring this first ever production staged in Bournemouth and Poole College’s new Jellicoe Theatre to life.
There is real energy and verve in this romp-along, laugh-a-minute re-reading of The Hound of the Baskervilles thanks to a superbly versatile three man cast.
Former Jellicoe drama students Ollie Blake and Josh Haberfield are Holmes and Watson while performing arts tutor Jon Davis is Sir Henry Baskerville. Between them they play Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s story of greed, treachery and the ominous threat of death at the jaws of a murderous hound for big laughs.
Rattling through the adventure at breakneck speed, veering off at hilarious tangents and playing a further 14 characters between them, the talented trio still manage to remain remarkably faithful to the original story.
The action careers across southern England from Holmes’ Baker Street apartments to the Baskerville estate deep in the misty wastes of the Devon moors with its deadly Grimpen Mire, strange occupants and howling distant hound.
With quick changes, even quicker asides to the audience, the occasional dance and an ever-present thread of hilarious homo-erotica, Blake, Haberfield and Davis deliver a minor masterclass in physical theatre.Drawing on mime and a number of carefully choreographed set pieces, their performances are funny, entertaining and pay affectionate tribute to the source material.
With excellent sound and lights and an almost bare stage dressed at various times with little more than a door, a mobile fireplace, a hatstand, a couple of suitcases, some slatted seating and a puff or two of dry-ice they recreate the fictional famous detective’s third, and arguable most famous, case in rare style.
*The Hound of the Baskervilles plays The Jellicoe Theatre at The College in North Road, Poole BH14 0LS again tonight (Thursday 17th September) at 7.30pm