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The Hound Of The Baskervilles

3 starsAt Greenwich Theatre, London; run ended
Reviewed by Alice de Cent

Sell a Door seem to be everywhere at the moment, with multiple productions hitting the UK stage this summer. Their latest is Tim Kelly’s adaptation of the Arthur Conan Doyle story, The Hound Of The Baskervilles – one of Sherlock Holmes’ best-known adventures.

Popular amongst amateur companies, Tim Kelly’s script is an odd fish, caught somewhere between melodrama and drawing room comedy. Written to be set in the present day, Sell a Door’s decision to transplant it back into the era of the original story is a strange choice, which is not supported by the language or often the behaviour of the characters. The cast give committed performances but cannot overcome the limitations of the script, which reduces Holmes and Watson to a know-it-all and a buffoon respectively.
 
The score nicely sets the scene, evoking much of the adventure that is missing from this interpretation of events, not shying away from the more epic moments of the narrative that are lost elsewhere. Setting the entirety of the action in one room after Baskerville Hall may have been intended to concentrate the action, but it rather serves to leave one feeling that there is something more interesting going on elsewhere.

Director David Hutchinson is somewhat at the mercy of the playwright’s failings. Opening the story in Baskerville Hall, rather than London, removes any sense of foreboding about the place that threatens to end Sir Henry’s life. However, some responsibility has to be taken for the storytelling, which fails to enjoyably pinpoint the clues Holmes unravels throughout the mystery.

A competent production that is not without its charms, Sell a Door’s staging of The Hound Of The Baskervilles had a lot to live up to in retelling this well known adventure.  Alas, it doesn’t quite do justice to the story.

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