Hound of the Baskervilles
The Reading Room, Great Northern
Northern Rep, due to renovations in their usual Great Northern home (where the Crazy Golf used to be), have taken over one of the glass boxes by the cinema booth. They have curtained it off, built a small stage with 30 seats, and rebranded it the reading room. Currently, they are performing a two hander with an alternating cast of four. It’s Sherlock Holmes and Dr (Jane) Watson retelling the many treaded path of The Hound of the Baskervilles, and it is running six nights a week, for an ambitious THREE MONTHS(!).
The performance space detracts an awful lot from the piece, mainly because it has no roof, so is affected by all the noise from outside. I think we must have gone on the league night for the Axe Throwing centre across the hall. With all the whooping and crashing, it was genuinely difficult to hear the actors.
This is the second Sherlock Holmes comedy I have dragged my son to this year, and he’s told me he is not coming to anymore! I think the subject matter is very limiting for a two hander. The two leads go round chatting to suspects, Holmes picks up on some tiny nuances and clues, and then solves it at the end. No action – boring.
So, the plot is basically that. It is billed as a comedy, but it’s a bit uneven. There are some attempts at bawdy, Carry On humour, but the actors don’t really go for it, and it pretty much goes past unnoticed. In my book, there is absolutely nothing wrong with postcard humour, but if you are going to do it, do it properly.
The humour was really just focused on gaffes and ad libs. Again, nothing wrong with this, it usually gets the biggest laughs, but in this show it became very tedious. It should be used sparingly, but here it was literally every 60 seconds. It was a convoluted enough plot as it was, but was soon lost with all the wavering accents and tripped over lines.
I don’t like to be massively negative about someone else’s work, and maybe I just wasn’t in the mood. Most of the rest of the audience were laughing in the right places, and the actors played about 6 parts each, and had discernible characters and voices for all of them, so were obviously talented. So what do I know?
So maybe don’t listen to me, and go and see it for yourself. You’ll have enough chances, it ends in September…