Entertainment

Wildly amusing take on Sherlock Holmes legend

August 23, 2018   ·   0 Comments

Written By Constance Scrafield

The cast and crew for this time around at Century Church Theatre have their work cut out for  them, for they are producing Ken Ludwig’s comic play, Baskerville – A Sherlock Holmes Comedy. This is the Century Theatre Guild’s season opener.

The play opens Friday, September 7 and runs over the two weekends to September 16, 2018.

While there is always an element of humour in Sherlock Holmes’ wit and Holmes’ telling of the original stories, Ken Ludwig takes humour all the way and makes a comedy of the tale.

For those who do know not the story, we offer a brief background and synopsis: Sherlock Holmes is the legendary fictional detective, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s. Holmes is a Victorian era man of very high intelligence and, sometimes, a healthy contempt for those less brilliant. Dr Watson is his steady assistant in all his cases. There have been plenty of versions of this combination of characters, including the wildly successful “Sherlock” British television series, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and  Martin Freeman as Watson.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is one of the most intriguing and frightening of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series.

Here is the start of the story: Dr. James Mortimer contacts Sherlock Holmes because the of the mysterious death of his friend, Sir Charles Baskerville. Although he presumably died of a heart attack whilst walking out on the grounds of his estate in Devonshire, in death, his face was frozen in an expression of horror. There were also gigantic footprints of a hound some 50 yards from where he fell dead.

With the tradition of a curse upon the Baskerville family, involving a huge hound, the heir apparent, Sir Henry Baskerville, coming from Texas, braves the perceived risks and moves into the Baskerville estate.

Holmes and Watson take over the investigation of Sir Charles’ death and the shadow of danger to Sir Henry. Their adventures take them many places and, late at night, on to the moors which are strange and terrifying.

An interview with Neville Worsnop, Director of the play, told the Citizen, “There’s a play, Hound of the Baskervilles, on at Shaw [Festival] this year. Ours is a very true recording of the book but it’s a comedy. Ken Ludwig got permission to do this play from [Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s] estate. If you read the book, many of the speeches in this play are direct quotes.”

He said, “In the genre of The 39 Steps, this play is a lot of characters done by very few actors. We have 39 Characters being played by five people. Actually, Holmes [performed by Ken Noakes] and Watson [with Peter King] are on the stage all the time. So, that means 37 characters are played by three people and there 30 different scenes in different places. In order to bring on the scenes as seamlessly as we can, there are four stage managers.”

Handling the rapid changes of costume, attitude and even gender, the three multi-role players are  Denise Gismonde, Jason Riedel and Angie Sapalovski

Jo Phenix, taking on the task as Stage Manager for this production, is assisted “by the very fast moving” Assistant Stage Managers, Loren Clough, Michelle Salmon and Brigida Scholten.

“We have two people doing sound and lights with 60 sound cues and 55 lights cues,” said Mr Worsnop, “It’s a real team effort to bring this thing to the stage.”

Erin Montgomery is at the helm of the technical operations.

As to the  progress of honing to “as seamless as possible,” Mr Worsnop informed us, “The soundscape is complete and the lights will be tonight. Now we are rehearsing with a full stage and costumes so that we have six full dress rehearsals.”

Being community theatre, the rehearsal schedule is reasonably long term: “We rehearse three times a week in July and two times a week in August.”

For this production, he commented, “There are plenty of people who are loyal to us. All the actors in this play are people who have been with us before. This particular play, only two parts were available. Three auditioned for them and the person who didn’t get a part, volunteered to be one of the stage managers. She wanted to be part of the show.”

He outlined the pleasures of seeing this show: “ I have to tell you, audiences will be amused, entertained, frightened – gun shots will be heard! Holmes and Watson are on the stage all the time and it is a very typical Sherlock Holmes.”

He assured us all, “It’s a thoroughly entertaining piece.”

This “wildly funny new production” is at Century Church Theatre, 72 Trafalgar Road, Hillsburgh, Friday, September 7 through on the two weekends to Sunday, September 16 Fridays and Saturdays performances are 8:00 pm and Sunday are 2:30 pm. Tickets may be purchased by telephone at the Box office number: 519-855-4586 or on line at www.centurychurchtheatre.com

         

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