The Hound of the Baskervilles at The Barn Theatre review

Retelling the famous Sherlock Holmes tale, the latest production from Cirencester’s The Barn Theatre is a hysterical murder mystery, expertly performed by three masters of comic timing.

Left to right Dominic Brewer, Hywel Dowsell and Herb Cuanalo in Hound of the Baskervilles
Left to right: Dominic Brewer, Hywel Dowsell and Herb Cuanalo in Hound of the Baskervilles

In a nutshell

A fast-paced retelling of a Sherlock Holmes classic, performed straight from the comedic playbook of Monty Python. Expect fourth-wall-breaking, laugh-out-loud satire, from the first minute until the last.

The review

A cast of three

Made up of just three actors, the cast of The Hound of the Baskervilles expertly played a multitude of characters, including London cabbies, a loved-up Canadian without an accent, a mesmeric love interest in drag and our lead protagonists, Sherlock Holmes and Watson.

Snapping between accents in his supporting roles, Dominic Brewer aced his performance as Sir Henry Baskerville, the naive but likeable target of a murder attempt; while also breaking the fourth wall to convince the audience that the terrifying play had led the actor to become catatonic with fear.

Hwyel Dowsell’s Watson was a far-cry from the Watson today’s audiences might be familiar with. Played as a dim but dutiful sidekick, the audience was left rooting for Watson, as he unexpectedly stumbled across the murderer’s motives.

But perhaps the stand-out performance was the incredibly versatile Herb Cuanalo. A convincingly imperious Sherlock Holmes, Cuanalo flipped between male and female roles with ease, adding to the play’s hilarity as beards were removed and bonnets adorned, right on stage.

Staging and design

The Barn Theatre is by now well-known for its incredible lighting and sound system, rivalling many West End stages in terms of its technological abilities.

This was expertly demonstrated throughout Hound of the Baskervilles, in the comically-timed lighting changes, allowing Herb Cuanalo’s Sherlock to transport the audience with a click of his fingers; and during the simple, yet incredibly effective scene changes, highlighted by projected script, scrawled onto the flat surfaces of the show’s minimal set.

The diverse cast travelled between scenes in the depths of Dartmoor, aboard a moving train, Baskerville Hall and even inside a sauna using just a handful of props and set pieces – a truly impressive feat, which was testament to both the quality of the acting and the immersive lighting which aided each change in the landscape.

Laughing out loud

The first comedy we’ve seen at The Barn Theatre did not disappoint. Not knowing what to expect from such a small cast and famous story, The Barn Theatre’s reimagining of this classic had us laughing throughout.

Combining a series of puns, slapstick and satire, the performance was witty, fast-paced and was expertly intertwined with fourth-wall breaking moments.

Proving that The Barn Theatre isn’t just about high-drama, this funny and entertaining performance was a joy to watch, and demonstrated the diversity of both the venue and its fantastic cast.

SoGlos loves

Without giving too much away, we loved the ‘recap’ after the interval. Providing the perfect opportunity to deduce the facts, the audience was treated to a hilarious, but speedy flashback.

Don’t miss the start of the second half – it’s a quick-change riot!

Top tip

Showcasing top London talent in the heart of the Cotswolds, watching a show at The Barn Theatre opens up the opportunity to see a stellar performance without taking a trip to the capital.

What next?

For more information, see The Barn Theatre, call (01285) 648240 or visit directly.

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