The Shaw Festival production of Hound of the Baskervilles is top-flight entertainment. Well staged with a great ensemble cast it delivers a fun, fast-paced adaptation of the the Doyle novel that chills and even surprises in ways that will please the most dedicated Sherlock fan. Sounds too good to be true? Trust me I was anticipating a muddled mess like the Shaw production of Dracula last season.
With Sherlock it is hard to say who the lead is Sherlock or Watson. Damien Atkins, as Sherlock, heads a sharp ensemble cast, with Graeme Somerville as his Watson. Both were good – I found Atkins a bit young but enjoyed him all the same. Somerville gives us the ‘Nigel Bruce’ Watson, as opposed to the Jude Law take on the character.
The staging was perfection. The use of projection & scrims was precise & as effective as their use in Stratford’s current Coriolanus. I love the rolling stairways in the chase scene & the clever use of trap. The moors were perfectly created & properly moody. Sadly, in this preview production, the hound itself was not a success. John Gzowki’s music was so good I hoped to find a cd of it in the gift shop – no such luck.
The text brought in elements of the Sherlock mythos not in the novel. It stuck to the essential points of the Hound’s plot & characters but did insert some new scenes – a dinner party that was not in the novel but which worked perfectly giving a more romantic edge to the story. It also introduced layers of villainy that were satisfying. I was gratified that there was no nods to the current modernized Holmes. A fine production that I’d recommend to anyone.
Other summer reviews:
Long Day’s Journey Into Night: “a ghost haunting the past” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-30f
Coriolanus: “My rage is gone” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-31K
The King and I: The King and My Memories https://wp.me/p1RtxU-31Y
Julius Caesar: Honourable Women https://wp.me/p1RtxU-33T