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A CurtainUp London London Review
The Hound of the Baskervilles



Dear Jason Thorpe,
If you value your life, stay away from the theatre!

—Note handed to an actor
The Hound of the Baskervilles
John Nicholson, Jason Thorpe and Javier Marzan
(Photo: Manuel Harlan)
Peepolykus's production of the great Sherlock Holmes mystery thriller, The Hound of the Baskervilles is spirited into the Duchess Theatre after touring. Three intrepid actors tackle all the characters in this Gothic story of an evil aristocratic family and their stately home on the Devon moors near to the famous prison.

The technique is fast action, spoof and slapstick. The tale is told with quirky sound effects and much mime. I loved the opening where we hear actors imitating the crunch, crunch of footsteps on the gravel, of an owl hooting, the barking of dogs and a man taking out a box of matches, rattling it and then striking one with gorgeous lighting effects. It is jokey and clever but is the joke good enough to carry a performance of two hours ten minutes?

The cast of three work incredibly hard with some very quick costume changes called for which form part of the hilarity. Javier Marzan plays the cerebral detective Holmes. He is tall and dark and looks the part but should we think this is a serious portrayal, his very un-English accent lulls us out of that particular complacency. However Javier's Spanish voice didn't disturb me as his characterisation conveys much of Holmes' mystery, authority and aplomb. The meeting with the Baskerville heir, Sir Henry (Jason Thorpe) takes place in the Turkish Baths before they all try to manoeuvre a path through the treacherous Devon bog without sinking into the mire. Jason Thorpe is particularly adept at walking behind the fireplace and seconds later emerging sans his plus fours. John Nicholson, also the writer, plays Dr Watson and tells us at the end that it is all "just smoke and mirrors."

In case you have lost the plot, following a petition from the audience for more clarity, the second act opens with a reprise of all of the first act in rapid time, complete with some of the costume changes in this rapid fire version. Javier plays the woman Sir Henry falls for and "her brother" Stapleton, and there is a gorgeous Tango scene where his partner is considerably shorter that the "lady". The whole is a rather silly evening for audiences who require little more than rib tickling fun. The tickets are cut price so no-one need feel they have paid full West End prices for this show which would have been better if it had been briefer. The Greek sounding company Peepolykus (People Like Us) have brilliant performers with excellent timing but for me the joke wore a trifle thin.

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(London)
THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Written by Arthur Conan Doyle
Directed by Orla O'Loughlin

With: Javier Marzan, John Nicholson, Jason Thorpe
Design: Ti Green
Lighting: Jackie Shemesh and Tim Bray
Sound: Mic Pool
A Peepolykus production
Running time: Two hours 10 minutes with one interval
Box Office: 0870 040 0082
Booking to 21st July 2007
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 17th April 2007 performance at the Duchess Theatre, Catherine Street, London WC2 (Tube: Covent Garden)
London Theatre Walks


Peter Ackroyd's  History of London: The Biography



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tales from shakespeare
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©Copyright 2007,Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from esommer@curtainup.com