Audiences attending the latest production at the Genesian Theatre may find themselves a little bamboozled at first. This is Sherlock Holmes, but not as you know him. Opening this Saturday, 27th May and running for just four weekends, the Genesian’s The Hound of the Baskervilles is a hilarious take on the classic detective novel, brought to life by a troupe of just three actors.
Based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fourth (and arguably most famous) Sherlock Holmes novel, this production of The Hound of the Baskervilles opens not on the rooms of 10b Baker Street, but on the wilds of Dartmoor, where Sir Charles Baskerville meets a decidedly nasty end. But the darkness of the deed is quickly brightened when the real style of the show is revealed – a slapstick, physical comedy with more quick-changes than a dressing room at Myer.
Genesian Theatre President, Barry Nielsen, says while there was a certain amount of risk in poking fun at such a well-known character, it was a challenge the company was only too happy to take on.
I read the script and I was giggling from the first page. I know some purists may argue that you shouldn’t meddle with a classic, but honestly our first mission is to entertain, and that’s definitely what this play does,” Nielsen reasoned. “It’s a style similar to that of The 39 Steps and The Complete Works of Shakespeare – Abridged, both of which were immensely popular with our audiences.
Nielsen added that viewers did not need to be familiar with the original to enjoy the experience.
All the details of the mystery are still carefully laid out and you won’t be left wondering ‘who dunnit’. But there are also lots of nods to the original and ‘inside jokes’ that I think fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will really appreciate.
Over their 79 years as a company, the Genesians have developed a reputation as the home of English
classics. Think manor-house mysteries such as those penned by Agatha Christie, or comedies of manners from the likes of George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde. These well-trodden tales are typically presented in traditional style, with care taken over the finer details like period costuming and correct etiquette.
But the latest production of The Hound of the Baskervilles throws out those traditions with the proverbial bath-water, opting instead for a riotous and ramshackle race across the moors with a mere cast of three – Alyona Popova, Oliver Harcourt-Ham and Kate Easley – performing all the required roles.
Directed by Richard Cotter, a beloved veteran of the Sydney stage, this is a show that relies heavily on its cast. With a minimal set, and innumerable sound and lighting cues, the production really showcases the physical aspects of performance. The game is well and truly a-foot!
The Hound of the Baskervilles runs from 27th May to 17th June 2023
Venue: Genesian Theatre
Date: 27th May to 17th June 2023
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