There was murder, mystery, and magic in Blockley on Saturday 26 November 2016, when Rain or Shine took to the stage with its winter tour, Hound of the Baskervilles.
With the adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous story promising to include ‘four actors, one mystery, no clue’, SoGlos put on its detective cap and joined the eager crowds, ready to try and solve the crime.
It may not be a classic Christmas play, but Rain or Shine’s winter show promises to leave theatre-goers feeling merry and bright.
Having been a fan of Rain or Shine since seeing its summer Shakespeare shows for the past two years, I was excited, and a little curious, to see how the brilliant Gloucestershire theatre company would tackle the work of another world-famous writer.
And thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed. Quite the contrary in fact, as Rain or Shine’s transition from Shakespeare’s Elizabethan era to Doyle’s 221B Baker Street only cemented its reputation as a leading theatre company.
Performing what is perhaps Sherlock Holmes’ greatest mystery, Hound of the Baskervilles sees the world’s most famous detective called into the wilds to solve a case which appears to be, dun-dun-duuuun, supernatural.
The modest but atmospheric set complemented the story perfectly, with paintings doubling for train windows, and a lit fire turning into the misty moors, seamlessly transporting the audience from London into the wilderness.
The lighting and sound effects were also flawlessly timed, from creaking floorboards and howling beasts, to comic interludes, which added to the on-stage atmosphere.
In what seemed an unbelievable feat, the four actors swapped roles with amazing speed and fluidity. A personal highlight was a battle between Mr Jack Stapleton and Sir Henry Baskervilles, both played by Matt Ferriman. A witty and wonderful inclusion in the play, Matt’s blend of suspense and silliness remained excellent throughout.
The whole cast performed superbly; Pippa Meekings changing swiftly from the austere Dr Mortimer, to melodramatic heroine Beryl Stapleton, to strange and secretive Eliza Barrymore. Meanwhile Rob Keeves portrayed Sherlock Holmes’s trademark observations, before transforming into the comically creepy Mr Barrymore.
Remaining in the role as Dr Watson, Anthony Young epitomised everything Sherlock fans would expect from the detective’s faithful sidekick, and by appearing in every scene showcased his great acting talent.
An original, witty, and exciting version of Sir Conan Arthur Doyle’s story, the best thing about Rain or Shine’s show was its self-awareness. Not taking itself too seriously, the performance delighted audience members with its off-the-cuff comedy and light-hearted jokes.
The best reaction of the night and a definite highlight was an appearance from Baskerville’s deadly hounds… but we won’t give anything away!
While it may not be a classic Christmas play, Rain or Shine’s winter show promises to leave theatre-goers feeling merry and bright nevertheless.
Rain or Shine will be performing Hound of the Baskervilles at various Gloucestershire venues until Saturday 7 January 2017. For more information visit rainorshine.co.uk directly.
By Kathryn Godfrey
Tuesday 29 November 2016
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