The Hound of the Baskervilles by Steven Canny and John Nicholson, Central Square Theatre, 9/7/11-10/2/11, http://www.centralsquaretheater.org/season/11-12/the-hound-of-the-baskervilles.html.
Reviewed by Becca Kidwell
(Cambridge, MA) From the moment the lights go down…and up…and down…it is evident that Steven Canny, John Nicholson, and Thomas Derrah have studied two of the preeminent literature scholars: The Reduced Shakespeare Company and Monty Python. This spoof of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles’ hilarity starts from the theatre notifications and does not end until the final bows. Central Square Theatre’s new season starts off with a bang (well..just don’t let Dr. Watson hold the gun).
Remo Airaldi, Trent Mills, and Bill Mootos play all of the characters in the story. The audience learns of the unnatural death at the paws of the hound of the baskervilles and Holmes and Watson are enlisted to investigate Baskerville Hall before the last heir becomes the last victim of the hound. Misdirection, mistaken identity, and misunderstanding follow as Holmes and Watson try to protect Sir Henry Baskerville from the evil dog.
Remo Airaldi plays the intrepid Sherlock Holmes who seems to barely trust Dr. Watson–except when Dr. Watson helps to solve the mystery. Airaldi plays Holmes as a jaded noir detective who solves mysteries because that’s what he does. In addition to his Bob Hoskins-like performance as Holmes, he plays men and women that conveniently are never around when Holmes is around, including a really ugly woman that Sir Henry falls in love with.
Bill Mootos is the stuffy and highly incompetent Dr. Watson. Although he does help Holmes out in solving the mystery, he also spends too much time on the minutiae around him and rarely notices the big threats right in front of his face. Mootos performance works well as the “straight” man to Mills and Airaldi by reacting to the craziness that ensues (although “staight” might be a misnomer for Dr. Watson).
As two of the Baskerville heirs and several minor characters, Trent Mills manages to remain the hapless victim of circumstance throughout the entire story. Not realizing deadly threats on his life, Sir Henry bumbles through traps and deliberate death attempts while only focusing on his main interest a Peruvian woman played by Remo Airaldi.
As if other characters, the set, sound, lighting, and costume design heighten the farcical nature of the show. Carlos Aguilar’s set surprises the audience with its small traveling stage that is filled with opportunities. Mallory Frers made comical and convenient costumes for the quick action and character changes. Nathan Leigh’s sound design is reminiscent of old radio plays and both adds some suspense and cheese-factor of the show. This serial mystery theme is enhanced by footlights and dim lighting designed by Steven McIntosh.
This is a great show to bring the family to and get the youngsters interested in literature (make them read the book after). Steven Canny and John Nicholson’s script provides an “uncanny” spoof of the classic tale (oh, come on, you knew that was coming). The blundering, intelligent performances should not be missed unless you get stopped by an evil dog on the street.