Not counting anyone who founded a major religion, Sherlock Holmes has to be the most popular fictional character in literary history. If we are to judge by the amount of times the quintessentially British detective has been brought back to life, in literature, stage, film and television, Holmes and his faithful sidekick Watson have never really gone away. Interestingly enough, author Arthur Conan Doyle got so tired of them that he threw them off a waterfall to their deaths in 1893. But the outcry from his fans and editors was so insistent that he brought them back in 1901 with his classic "The Hound of the Baskervilles."
We get the zany adaptation by Steven Canny and John Nicholson, in which three actors play at least half a dozen characters each, sometimes playing more than one at the same time.You want lighthearted clowning and brilliant staging? You've got it. In fact, as good as Ron Campbell as Holmes, Michael Gene Sullivan as Watson and Darren Bridgett as Baskerville, et al, are -- it is the production's madcap character switching and precision choreography that are the most memorable.
The story doesn't really hang together, but we don't care, do we? Campbell is such a good Holmes and an equally entertaining Lady Stapleton, Sullivan's Dr. Watson is wonderfully pathetic and, although we know we shouldn't laugh at the poor man running around without his pants, Bridgett does not allow us that option.
Look for nothing but fun. The world's greatest detective can still make us laugh.
RATINGS ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG
The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "The Hound of the Baskervilles' Three Stars with a BANGLE OF PRAISE. The acting, staging and Robert Kelley's directing earn one star each, while the BANGLE is for the brilliant beginning to Act Two, where the three actors re-perform Act One in its entirety in about two minutes. The whole show is a delight, but Act Two's opening leaves us with our mouths wide open. Careful. Somebody might stick a meerschaum calabash in there.
"The Hound of the Baskervilles"
Mountain View Center for Performing Arts
500 Castro Street, Mountain View
Through April 4