Colin Baker plays Sherlock Holmes, with Terry Molloy as his trusty Dr Watson.
With Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles celebrating its 120th year, there’s a new stage production on tour.
This alone would have been enough to lure CultBox to the theatre; the casting of Colin Baker as Sherlock Holmes made it a must-see. We were lucky enough to catch the show on its opening night at the Harlequin Theatre in Redhill.
The story unfolds as a dramatic reading, presented in the style of a radio play being recorded; its six cast members sit at the back of the stage, coming forward to the microphones as required. Occasionally, they also assist the hard-working stage manager (Alexandra Bradford), who provides a mix of live and electronic sound effects.
The unusual presentation suits a Sherlock Holmes story well; Dr Watson’s role as Holmes’ chronicler naturally sets the scenes and Terry Molloy’s take on the character is a reassuring one.
As the famous consulting detective, Colin Baker is a perfect piece of casting; he finds plenty to play with amid the deductions and the character’s natural pomposity. However, those familiar with the tale will doubtless know that Holmes is absent for a good part of the narrative. Don’t worry, as many a radio listener will recall “other parts are played by members of the cast”; in this case, from the Baskerville’s butler Barrymore (of deepest Mummerset) to the nosey-neighbour Frankland (a behatted comic delight), Mr Baker entertains throughout.
Doctor Who connections
For those so inclined, the Doctor Who connections run deep here (and there’s a tiny TARDIS on a shelf at the rear of the set too). Not only do the Sixth Doctor and Davros actors become Holmes and Watson, but the entertaining cast contains Dee Sadler (Flowerchild of ‘The Greatest Show in the Galaxy’) as Doctor Mortimer and the prolific Nigel Fairs (Big Finish writer & director) as Sir Henry Baskerville. The cast is rounded out by the adapter/director Martin Parsons and producer Kate Ashmead, who play various roles.
While presented as a radio play on stage, there is actually plenty to see too. Firstly, both Colin Baker and Terry Molloy have terrific stage presence and their interactions sparkle. Additionally, talking to fellow audience members, we all admitted a fascination with the live Foley work. It provides a fun added dimension to the proceedings.
Relating the novel in just over two hours, the story is judiciously streamlined. However, thanks to clever presentation and twinkling performances, the narrative sweeps you up. This really is one not to miss and hopefully not the only outing of this particular Holmes and Watson.