Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, Theatre Review. Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

Jay Taylor and Patrick Robinson as Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson in Baskerville: Photograph by Ellie Kurttz.

Cast: Bessie Carter, Edward Harrison, Ryan Pope, Patrick Robinson, Jay Taylor.

There is a demonic howl that punctures the thick Devonshire Fog and finds the way to install the first wave of fear in a man’s heart, the moors have the air of the unnatural and spectral feeling its way like spindly fingers through a solid, almost impenetrable web, the hand upon the shoulder, the heavy, phantom breathing of the curse that has weaved its way into the family history is close by and the eyes start to glow blood red, evil and death locked in its slavering, hungry teeth.

Sir Charles Baskerville knows he is to die…and yet Arthur Conan Doyle’s much loved book didn’t leave the opportunity to have fun with the creature who stalked the thoughts of Sherlock Holmes; that is completely up to writer Ken Ludwig and the company who bring the enjoyable, satisfying and passionate Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery to life at the Playhouse Theatre.

Arthur Conan Doyle has been tackled before and no doubt will be again, the interest and popularity in the writer has never knowingly waned. To be given this humorous and at times, lurking in the shadows, almost satirical edge whilst conveying nothing but absolute adoration for the subject matter at hand.

As a piece of literature, The Hound of the Baskervilles is up there with any crime novel a reader could name, it’s own shadow looms over the works of others, perhaps as a push to inspire a certain greatness in other’s works or even as a tomb in which some writers find their wits unravelling against the might of one who bought the world’s greatest consulting detective to life.

Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery doesn’t seek to overthrow the literary giant, merely to offer it freedom to be explored, to be played with and given licence to be seen in a fresh way, a way that is delightfully funny whilst holding on to the core values that makes the story so avid a read.

The five actors taking on the myriad of roles excel in their performance, the non-stop action building up to a crescendo, a crash of reward as the final reveals take place. Bessie Carter, Edward Harrison, Ryan Pope, Patrick Robinson and Jay Taylor exhaustingly perform with sincerity and a raised eyebrow throughout and as a final hurrah to the year; Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery is a production of absolute merit and fun.

Ingenious, spellbinding, mixing the suspense of the novel and the created freedom together with respect; Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery is a breed apart.

Ian D. Hall