Association of Community Theatre


adapted by Steven Canny and John Nicholson

directed by Steve Grist

Colne Dramatic Society


A wonderfully barking spoof is how the play is promoted, and barking it is, as well as being sparkling and completely off the wall.  Frantic, mad-cap mayhem reveals the story of Conan Doyle’s story with three actors playing all the characters in the novel.


There is a medical term that takes its name from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1902 novel The Hound of the Baskervilles, originally serialised in the Strand magazine. The “Baskerville Effect” is a statistical observation, recorded among superstitious communities, suggesting that fatalities from heart attacks are directly increased by extreme fear or stress.


I was impressed with the fact that the narrative of the novel was generally followed, and knowing the original story certainly helped.  I just wondered slightly whether or not someone who was not familiar with the Baskerville plot would be able to follow this particular romp.  I need not have worried: the frantic pace, the excellent diction and projection, and a thorough understanding of the piece meant that every twist and turn was highlighted and explained.


Multi-role characters require multi-talented actors, and here we had three actors who are at the top of their game, Josh Hindle, Blue Blezard and Jack Herbert.


The ingenious players tackle more than 20 characters, as well as occasionally slipping out of character - and indeed the entire plot - to toss in a red herring or two.


On an atmospheric, grey set, which doubles as 221b Baker Street as well as Baskerville Hall itself (and all settings in between: sauna, cab, train, Grimpen Mire), the three actors apply clownish humour to the famous mystery. They claim not to have tampered with the basic plot. True, an ancient family curse threatens to strike again, a spectral, demonic dog haunts the moor and a deranged killer is on the loose. Packed with physical inventiveness, the company takes eccentric multiple-characterisation and ridiculous wackiness to extremes. Only Steve Grist's deft production prevents it from spiralling out of control.


From the melodramatic opening - the death of Sir Charles Baskerville, "his face contorted as if he had died in utter terror," mimed to the accompaniment of bloodcurdling sound effects, to the speeded-up action replay of the first act after the interval, the pace is relentless. Josh Hindle switches back and forth between the hawk-eyed Holmes, the shifty, bearded Barryman (and Mrs Barryman) and the sinister naturalist Stapleton (and Miss Stapleton). Josh never lets his sidekick forget that Watson is the underdog, however.


Even so, The Hound is more of a Dr Watson story and, in Jack Herbert's Watson, Holmes has an earnest and energetic accomplice. Determined to astound with his deductions, this Watson is foiled at every turn.


Blue Blezard is a dour Dr Mortimer and an audacious Sir Henry Baskerville. He is as adept at fielding the gags - which come thick and fast - as he is at adding an individual voice to the characters' comic bafflement at the predicament in which they find themselves bogged down. If ever Harry Enfield needs a stand in, then Blue Blezard is your man.


A production that moves at the speed of this play, needs a back-up team equal to the task.  With something like 111 sound cues, and nearly as many lighting cues, together with the many different settings needed, was essential teamwork.  And teamwork there was aplenty.  So, very many congratulations to Paul Thompson and Richard I’Anson for the sound and lighting, and to Helen Spencer as the stage manager.  Without your very hard work the presentation would not have been as good as it was.


I really must compliment John Mills and Mark Bithell, the scenic artists, and also Stephen Thornton, Joe Midgley and John Mills for the clever set design.


This “Hound of the Baskervilles” is well worth seeing and is the perfect antidote to a cold winter’s night.


Thank you for your very warm welcome.