An elementary deduction: Classic meets comedy | Arts & Appetite

By James Spangler | Sep 21, 2017
Courtesy of: Driftwood Players The cast of “Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery” includes, from left, Elex Hill, Kris 'Pepper' Hambrick, Robert Alan Barnett, Brynne Garman and Ingrid Sanai Buron.

From my teenage years to today, I have always loved all things Sherlock Holmes. In the Driftwood Players’ most recent production, it takes the iconic character and applies just the right measure of “Young Frankenstein” to it, creating an amusing, engaging portrayal of one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous stories.

“Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery,” written by two-time Olivier award-winner Ken Ludwig (“Moon Over Buffalo,” “Crazy For You”) is intended to challenge the creative process of its directors, designers and cast.

As Ludwig put it: “It's a vessel into which you can pour any kind of liquid. It could be done on a bare stage with five actors and 25 hats.”

Paul Fouhy was chosen to direct “Baskerville.” This is not Fouhy’s first rodeo. Having taught drama in the Auburn school district for 33 years and having made his directorial debut with Driftwood in 1995, Fouhy knows his way around a stage.

When Fouhy took “Baskerville” on, it presented him with some interesting challenges. Its cast of five plays and almost 40 characters, two of whom – “Actor One” played by Ingrid Sanai Buron and “Actor Three” played by Elex Hill – each have 14 roles to perform. Both have a personal dressing assistant waiting in the wings to speed up costume changes.

Add to that the challenge of mixing the correct measure of farcical comedy while remaining true to the original storyline of Doyle’s masterpiece, and you can see the challenge.

Fortunately for Fouhy, he found that he had a strong, collaborative cast, each of whom contributed to the project. “When we put it all together we wondered if the audience would actually laugh,” he said. “We thought it was funny, but you don't know how it will play until opening night.”

The payoff? It works.

“Baskerville” is hilarious – with elements of old-fashioned melodrama, self-deprecating sight gags and highly credible renderings of our heroes Sherlock (played masterfully by Kris “Pepper” Hambrick) and his faithful foil, Dr Watson (Brynne Garman).

I think I was most surprised by the variety and unpredictability of the sight gags. For example, a hotel manager cautions a guest not to use foul language in the lobby of his family friendly establishment. This admonition is interrupted by an adult-sized baby toddling across the stage wailing.

That particular gag took on an almost surreal quality. A couple of dozen such comic interjections are scattered throughout the production, briefly hijacking the audience’s attention and generating plenty of laughter.

There's even a tip of the hat to the late Marty Feldman, the hunchbacked, foot-dragging butler from “Young Frankenstein” who encouraged his guests to “walk this way!” Sure enough, they bend double and drag themselves behind him.

Lovers of Holmes, comedy and community theater should make their way to the Wade James Theatre. But but don't delay – “Baskerville” closes this Sunday.


“Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery”

Rating: 4.6 out of 5
Where: Driftwood Players at Wade James Theater, 950 Main St., Edmonds
When: 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. Ends Sept. 24.
Tickets: $28, $25 for seniors, military and students.
Information: 425-774-9600, www.edmondsdriftwoodplayers.org

 

 

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