Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery is full of farce and imagination

Alex Zahara (left) who plays the titular Holmes and Mark Weatherley (right) who plays the ever faithful Watson are the only two actors who remain in the role of a singular character for the entire play.

Based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, this play by Ken Ludwig is full of corny lines and all the idiosyncrasies that we have come to love in both Holmes and his trusty assistant Watson. The script, set, and costumes all impressed, but the fancy technical additions such as moving screens, scrims, projections, and puppetry only served to distract and pull me out of the story.

Despite all the fancy technical wizardry involved, the most impressive thing about the play is that the vast number of characters are played by only five actors.

Sherlock Holmes (Alex Zahara) and Watson (Mark Weatherley) remain in their characters throughout the show. The other three actors (Lauren Bowler, Kirk Smith, and Mike Wasko) play 40 roles, including the Addams family-inspired servants at the Baskerville mansion, an American from Texas with an accent dripping in ignorance, a cunning brother and sister who live on the moor, and a Spanish hotel clerk.

Their frenzied attempt to change back and forth from one character to another mid-dialogue only added to the farcical fun.

What begins a bit slowly as we learn of the infamous hound of the Baskervilles does become more intriguing, but with a tenuous grasp on my full attention, the technical trickery in this show didn’t help. Holmes had moments of the bravado and cool calculation that he is known for, but I thought the performance was a bit unpolished and could have done more to make me relate to him.

As the hound is never during the course of the show, the play requires the audience to exercise a bit of imagination. This works well to build the mystery and legend of the hound, but there were a couple of scenes with an imaginary hound attacking a character that seemed less than realistic. If we had only heard the action or been told about it afterward, the suspense would have been heightened instead of diminished.

Aside from some technical distractions and a slow start to the action, this is an entertaining and farcical fit for any Sherlock Holmes fan. Join the detective and Watson as they uncover the secrets behind the legendary hound of the Baskervilles and meet many colourful characters along the way.

Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery is presented by Arts Club and runs from September 25 to October 9th on the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. Tickets can be purchased here.