Arthur Conan Doyle (adapted by Clive Francis)
Where and When
11th – 13th February 2010 @ The Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne
Victorian-era detective Holmes and his assistant, Dr. Watson, are called to Baskerville Hall in the mist-covered moors of Dartmoor in southern England. A giant spectral hound reportedly stalks the premises and kills the estate’s heirs out of vengeance for the death of a local peasant girl.
- Dr Mortimer – Peter Brown
- Jack Stapleton – Peter Brown
- Laura Lyons – Jan Bursby
- Mrs Barrymore – Caroline Butcher
- Sir Henry Baskerville – Paul Dodman
- Dr Watson – Stuart Glossop
- James – Tim Harris
- Cab Driver – Graham Hawkins
- Station Master – Graham Hawkins
- Barrymore – Simon Jackson
- Beryl Stapleton – Tracey Nicholls
- Sherlock Holmes – Tony Parkinson
- Coach Driver – David Pile
- Postmaster – David Pile
- Station Porter – David Pile
- Mrs Hudson – Jan Stevenson
- Director – Richard Neal
LT – Stour and Avon Community Magazine
Let’s start with the positive. Stuart Glossop was excellent as Dr Watson. Long monologues delivered skillfully and clearly to the audience kept the plot flowing. He was on stage for most of the play yet never seemed to tire in what must have seemed an uphill battle. Jan Stevenson brought humour as the long suffering Mrs Hudson and Paul Dodman was effective as the American Sir Henry Baskerville. However…The Hound of the Baskervilles is a tale of fear, suspense and murder.
Unfortunately this did not translate well to the stage and the audience’s tendency to laugh at what should have been the scariest moments must have been demoralising for those on stage. Tony Parkinson lacked the presence that someone as famous as Sherlock Holmes should have had in abundance. His lines were not clear and sometimes spoken too quietly. A little more pace throughout would also have helped.
The set was simple but effective. Clever use was made of a picture frame and a raised rostrum enabled the action to move from Baker Street to Dartmoor, thanks to a little imagination by the audience. Sherlock Holmes’ home was created well with a clutter of belongings, although these stayed on the stage throughout.
This, I’m afraid to say, was not one of Wimborne Drama’s finer moments. Clive Francis’ play proved a little too ambitious for this amateur group. Maybe something a little more elementary next time.
Arthur Conan Doyle’s story of murder and evil on Dartmoor is a gripping book that allows the reader’s imagination to run riot. Sadly, on this showing at least, it does not transfer easily to the stage.
Part of the problem lies in the constant changes between Sherlock Holmes’ Baker Street home, Dartmoor and Baskerville Hall. Clearly it was not practical to attempt so many changes, therefore Baker Street remained constantly downstage, well depicted by Holmes’ armchair and various possessions, while the rest of the set was largely black, with a rear rostrum and a large, albeit cleverly used picture frame for everything else – and thus a little tedious on the eye.
Secondly, although there were some strong performances, in particular Stuart Glossop as an excellent Dr Watson, Tony Parkinson’s Sherlock Holmes was at times inaudible and he also tended to speak far too quickly to be heard clearly. He also seemed unsure of his lines and managed more than once to cause confusion by saying such things as “the woman masquerading as his wife is, in fact, his wife.”
Then there were those times when what should have been truly terrifying moments resulted instead in laughter from the audience. Sorry, I wanted to like the production but…