The Hound of the Baskervilles – A Wild and Clever Romp

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    Truly a character for all ages, odds are really good the tweens or teens in your life have already caught the terrific Sherlock adaptation on BBC, or Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock on the big screen, or CBS’s exploration of Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective in Elementary.

    And if they haven’t? Who cares! You still should check out the very funny, very entertaining Hound of the Baskervilles from Virginia Rep. It made my cheeks hurt from laughing. Seriously. But if the cheek-o-meter doesn’t do it for you, with a daughter on each side of me, it was easy to gauge the show’s entertainment quotient. From one side, Mom got evil looks from laughing too hard. The other daughter was too busy howling (much like the infamous hound!) to bother showing her disapproval. Both girls thanked me profusely for making the show a girls’ night out and blowing off the biggest Sherlock fan in the house – their father.

    In this hilarious parody, three actors play twenty characters, give or take. Between quickie costume changes, accents, puppets, and life-size dolls, I lost count. Matthew Mitchell is Sherlock Holmes, the world’s first pop-culture icon, and David Clark plays Dr. Watson, the older, if not wiser member of the famous detective team. I saw Mitchell as Roy in Nice People Dancing and going in, assured my daughters he would steal the show. But they fell hard and fast for the third actor onstage, Adam Turck. He portrayed Sir Henry Baskerville, among others, with comedic dexterity. His take on the wacky Dr. Mortimer was particularly entertaining, as he used puppets to recount the legend of the Baskerville family for the benefit of Holmes and Watson and by default, the audience. Later, Turck’s impressive use of facial expressions and picture frames singularly transformed the resolution scene.

    If you haven’t been to Hanover Tavern, it’s the perfect venue for a production that invites performers to come outside their characters and interact with the audience — something Director Gary Hopper guided his actors in doing rather adeptly. That said, we happened to be sitting in just the right section for the hijinks (to the delight of one of my daughters!). And don’t be late back to your seat after intermission or you’ll miss one of the funnier bits.

    Because of its anything-goes, improvisational, and burlesque quality, I feel like I could see Hound of the Baskervilles again and again and still enjoy it — which means my husband might get a chance to catch it before it closes in early November.

    Reviewed by Karen Schwartzkopf

    The Hound of the Baskervilles presented by Virginia Rep runs now through November 4 at Hanover Tavern.  Purchase tickets at www.va-rep.org or by calling (804) 282-2620.