Review: The Hound of the Baskervilles (Original Theatre, online)

A gloriously silly version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous Sherlock Holmes story, with a cast of three, a particularly dim Dr Watson, and a couple of hours of overacting.

This tale has been given the comedy treatment before, by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore no less, but with disappointing results. Here, Steven Canny and John Nicholson adapt the tale for Peepolykus, and make it delightfully daft.

Our intrepid trio – Jake Ferretti, Serena Manteghi, and Niall Ransome – never let up in this fast-placed frolic where effects and backdrops place us square on Dartmoor.

Niall Ransome and Jake Ferretti in The Hound of the Baskervilles

You don’t need to know the plot to enjoy, but any Holmesian might get a bit more from following how this adaptation handles all the quirks and ridiculous twists of this Gothic horror.

As a clever bit of escapism, Lotte Wakeham’s production succeeds in all the right places. Holmes himself may be on the hysterical side, but his outbursts in the hands of Ferretti are hilarious.

Manteghi displays strong comic timing in a range of supporting characters, while Ransome’s dithering Watson is perfectly judged without becoming too much of a clown.

Subverting all the theatrical norms, we have scenes performed at speed as well as in slow motion, moments repeated or turned into meltdown.

Niall Ransome, Jake Ferretti, and Serena Manteghi in The House of the Baskervilles

This is the Hound of the Baskervilles, all right, but not as you know it. I couldn’t stop laughing, but be assured that the basic plot is not neglected. Stapleton, Barrymore, Selden and Sir Henry himself are all present and correct.

Put simply, this is another triumph for Original Theatre’s busy team and a loud hurrah for the Great Detective, the Good Doctor, and that vicious canine of the marshland.

You can enjoy this digital theatre production until 31 July 2022 via Otiginal Theatre Online – details and tickets here.

Image credit: Pamela Raith