By Joshua Patton
“A touch Watson. An undeniable touch,” says Sherlock after learning one of his first clues. “I know the rest.”
Holmes always plays the game for the game’s own sake. This is the driving force behind his identity, and remains the case for this recent adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel Sherlock: The Hound of Baskervilles, which played at Hedgerow Theatre Sept. 9 through 18.
The storyboard style play captured the essence of Sherlock that fans have come to know and love, while blending together new elements for a new experience.
There were no props, besides the projector displaying character portraits and backgrounds for the show. The mystery begins when Holmes and Watson learn of the demise of Sir Charles Baskerville, who appears to have met his end at the hands (or paws) of a hell hound. Shortly after, they are accompanied by Dr. Mortimer and Sir Henry Baskerville, who join them on their journey to the moor, to catch the killer.
Like Sherlock, Hedgerow Theatre has a singular purpose: to provide entertainment, but this isn’t as easy as it seems. Jared Reed, the artistic director of Hedgerow Theatre, believes that the art of live theater needs to constantly change and flow to attract new audiences. This is done in part by the creation of original artworks for the show.
At the end of the day, it still comes down to the characters. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, characters were introduced one after the other, with some roles performed by the same cast member. Their distinct accents helped to identify the characters, as a cast member occasionally switched from one role to the other on a moments’ notice.
How these characters played off each other was both familiar and intriguing. The self-righteous Holmes, played by Mark Swift, often played off of Watson’s easily identifiable observations (elementary, really) to provide subtle, whimsical moments of levity while the story spun its wheels.
“Really Watson, you excel yourself,” said Holmes, during a scene when he hears Watson’s deductions of the bite marks on a cane. “It may be that you are not yourself illuminous, but you are a conductor of light.”
Watson’s character, played by Josh Portera, also evolved with Sir Henry Baskerville, showing two distinctly unique personas. “There is a light in a woman’s eyes that speaks louder than words,” Baskerville said. “Just tell me what it all means Watson.”
Halfway through the show however, Holmes departed.
That’s when the hints of a thriller, paired with a small helping of horror arrived. The story became Watson’s, while the audience was introduced to the dark and mysterious moor. Without Holmes’ detached objective deductions, the audience was left to follow the story through the eyes of an everyman.
After Sherlock came back, the story returned to a familiar rhythm, with a hatched plan of catching the killer, be it man or beast. During the final moments, the fervor swelled around the audience as the story neared its conclusion.
With new adaptations of Sherlock appearing every year, Hedgerow Theatre manages to walk the line between the classic settings, scenes, and plots of the original novels, while mixing in a tangible bit of new thematic elements, such as slight horror, thrilling moments, and strong characters to produce a wellrounded, exciting mystery.
Contact Joshua Patton at firstname.lastname@example.org