Sherlock Holmes returns to solve the curse of The Hound of the Baskervilles
- Credit: The Company of Players
A gloriously funny makeover of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's most celebrated Sherlock Holmes story is coming to Hertford.
The Hound of the Baskervilles can be seen at The Company of Players’ Little Theatre in Balfour Street from Friday, March 25 to Saturday, April 2.
When Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead on his estate, with a look of terror still etched on his face, and the paw prints of a gigantic hound beside his body, the great detective Sherlock Holmes is summoned from Baker Street, with Dr Watson in tow, to unravel the mysteries surrounding his death, and investigate the ancient curse of the Hound of the Baskervilles.
The Hound of the Baskervilles, the third Conan Doyle novel to feature Sherlock Holmes, was originally serialised in Strand magazine from 1901-02, giving us the Lazarus-like comeback of the tweedy sleuth.
Professing to be “weary” of him, Conan Doyle had killed off the character several years earlier in The Final Problem by having Holmes and his arch enemy Moriarty tumble to their deaths from atop the Reichenbach Falls.
Faced with outraged Strand readers cancelling their subscriptions in protest at Holmes’s demise, the publication dug deep and paid Conan Doyle a handsome fee to resurrect his popular character.
Hound has been adapted for film and television many times, but the version coming to the stage of The Little Theatre in Hertford was initially staged by Peepolykus, a theatre company renowned for its bonkers productions.
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The company happily admits its work gives more than a passing nod to the visual comedy of Buster Keaton, the Marx Brothers and Laurel and Hardy.
Given this essentially nonsensical nature, Hound might seem an odd choice, but the writers have stayed largely true to the original story, as they said, “it’s such a cracking yarn.”
Packed full of verbal and visual ingenuity and offering abundant opportunities for silly comedy and slapstick, this is a sublimely funny adaptation of a classic tale, featuring three highly experienced and, extremely energetic (the action proceeds at frenetic pace) CoPs actors.
Each plays a main character – Mark Haumann is Holmes, Alex Brace is Watson, and Darren Barsby is Sir Charles Baskerville – as well as various other roles.
Director Andy Lee said: “This is a play within a play; we see the actors discussing putting on the play at the start of each act before the Hound story begins, so each plays a version of themselves as an actor as well as a variety of both male and female roles."
"However,” he added, “although the show is very much a comedy, it’s not a send up or a spoof.
"It is inventive, lively, playful and hilarious. Intrigued? Come and see our production and let us know what you think.”
Tickets, which include a welcome drink, programme and coffee and biscuit in the interval, cost £14 for members or £17 for non-members.
They are available from www.ticketsource.co.uk/cops.
The first Friday and Saturday are being sold at limited capacity to allow social distancing – 40 seats, as against 60 on the other nights.
The Hound of the Baskervilles is also one of two entries by The Company of Players into this year’s Hertford Theatre Week from April 4 to April 9.
As Hertford Theatre is currently undergoing refurbishment, Theatre Week is being held at The Ayckbourn Theatre within the grounds of Haileybury College.
See the Company of Players’ website www.cops.org.uk for further details, directions and membership information.