Comic ‘Hound’ Guarantees a Screaming Good Time – Shaw Local
One of the very first theater troupes to launch online versions of their plays, The Original Theater Company first hooked me with their production of “The Habit of Art.”
Since March 2020, 14 digital productions from the UK-based theater company have been released worldwide in 57 countries; the latest, “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” is a silly, ingenious, delicious, and thoroughly enjoyable two-hour adventure that you can now watch from the best seat anywhere — in your home.
This hybrid form of theatre, in the words of artistic director Alastair Whatley, “opens up access to theater in ways we have never been able to do before”. COVID has certainly ushered in a period of enormous change for all theaters. Whatley said: “Necessity has forced our hand in 2020, as much as the past two years have been deeply challenging for all of us in the industry.” Hence the decision to record and broadcast.
“The Hound of the Baskervilles” presents the most famous case of Sherlock Holmes. Offered in conjunction with Octagon Theater in Bolton, England, the classic thriller stars Jake Ferretti as Sherlock Holmes, Serena Manteghi as Sir Henry Baskerville and Niall Ransome as Dr Watson. It was adapted for the stage by Steven Canny and John Nicholson. Lotte Wakeham directed The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Adventure at the Octagon Theatre; Tim Jackson directs the touring production. This particular streaming production was filmed in front of a live audience in February 2022.
And let’s be perfectly clear on one thing: the three actors, with endless energy and pace, play multiple roles – yes, it’s a small cast adaptation with quick costume changes and nifty props. But the plot remains the same: the mystery of the untimely death of Sir Charles Baskerville, linked to this cursed giant, howling dog still roaming the moors. Prepare for a whole new twist (no spoilers here), and as for you, armchair sleuths, there are a host of threads to unravel.
The ensemble includes a trio of extremely versatile and talented performers. Jake Ferretti is Sherlock Holmes, and he describes him as a likeable, down-to-earth genius – he’s no Benedict Cumberbatch, but he’s adorable. Her voice is superb. Ferretti also plays several other characters: the honest servant Barrymore and his wife, Mrs. Barrymore (watch out for that beard), Stapleton, the amorous Miss Cecile Stapleton (the dress alone is a character), and even a little girl ( not bad for a great actor).
Serena Manteghi is introduced at the start of this dramatic farce with a creative pantomime; she then goes on to portray Sir Henry Baskerville, the heir to the 500-year-old estate, as well as Dr. Mortimer, a London taxi driver and three yokels. There’s also a lot of versatility in her talents as she assumes the different facial expressions of the portraits hanging in the pool hall. Manteghi stuns with his physique.
Niall Ransome is Holmes’ loyal, stoic, and sometimes incompetent sidekick, Dr. Watson. He is, of course, in charge of Sir Henry’s protection; in Holmes’ own words: Watson is illuminating and his “own special torch”. Quite a burden to bear. Ransome’s attempt to revive Sir Henry is hysterical; his asides are delivered competently and his facials are quite brilliant throughout the production. Ransome is an exceptional protagonist.
Undoubtedly, all three actors exude tremendous energy (and that’s a prerequisite for credibly pulling off this production) and mastery of stage presence. Obviously, they are having fun. Lots of exhausting fun. And just when you think you couldn’t laugh anymore, come out for that punny ending and encore.
There are others to be commended for the dynamics of this very physical and flawless production: David Woodhead, production designer and set designer, sound designer Andy Graham and lighting designer Derek Anderson. They transport us to the misty moors and the rich estate and mansion.
Original Theater has three other productions available for digital viewing: “The Red,” a father and son drama, on view through June 16; “Into the Night,” celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Penlee lifeboat launched in a hurricane, available through Aug. 31; and a sharp psychological thriller, “The System,” available until August 31.
Original Theatre’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is a high quality production. the digital opportunity offers attractive accessibility to front-row seats at a price well below live theaters, with a two-hour viewing time you can control. And this production guarantees a screaming good time.
• It’s Elementary – Regina Belt-Daniels has been a fan of Sherlock Holmes since her father first read her the creations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. She visited 22 Baker St., and it’s no mystery that she loves her theater life, whether it’s acting, directing, serving on theater boards or writing. critics.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO
WHAT: “The Hound of the Baskervilles” by The Original Theater Company
WHEN: Broadcast until July 31
COST: $26 includes digital viewing and a 20-page digital program