Sherlock Holmes, left (played by Jason Mynett), dutifully holds the hand of his friend, Dr. John Watson (played by Paul Churchill) as he recovers from an injury during a dress rehearsal performance of Bard to Broadway’s Baskerville production. Performances of the farce run through to mid August. — Adam Kveton Photo

REVIEW: Baskerville farce seeks mystery, comedy balance

B2B production in Qualicum Beach full of contorted accents, zany characters, fun staging

Turning a horror mystery into a farce may be a tall order, but Bard to Broadway’s production of Baskerville does manage to extract laughs while keeping many elements of the mystery alive.

Baskerville by Ken Ludwig is a farcical take on the Sherlock Holmes mystery The Hound of the Baskervilles, and adds several ensemble cast members to play a host of characters while Holmes and Watson (played by Jason Mynett and Paul Churchill, respectively) make their way through the plot.

In many ways, the two main characters play straight men to the antics of the ensemble cast, who give life to about a dozen characters through quick costume changes and a cavalcade of questionable accents.

The NEWS attended the dress rehearsal on Monday, July 2.

The comedy manages to keep much of the original mystery, while adding some purposefully groan-worthy moments as well as several laughs.

This is done with quick scene changes that transport the audience speedily through the play, but can also read as jarring. It’s up to the audience to determine if the inclusion of so much of the original plot either hampers the farce, or honours its source material.

Bard to Broadway’s production of the farce includes many fun staging elements that add to the horseplay going on throughout. In several places, Holmes or another character provides some exposition while the ensemble cast re-enacts what is being told, chasing each-other up and down the moor where much of the action takes place.

Another fun element is the use of an actor to play a portrait of a man, reacting comically within a frame as Holmes and Watson describe him.

Kelly Kijek, a member of the ensemble, mostly plays Mr. Stapleton, and does a great job racing across the moor to catch a butterfly, dangled on the end of a string by a member of the crew. Kijek’s timing (both comedic and dramatic) and excellent face-pulling is on display here.

Another strong performance from the ensemble comes from Randy Humchitt, who plays Texan inheritor of Baskerville Hall, pulling off a silly yet endearing accent.

Mynett works dutifully to bring speed and exactitude to Holmes’ long and complicated lines, and manages to convey Holmes’ haughty yet compassionate viewpoint.

Watson, in this particular Holmes mystery, is perhaps more the centre of attention than usual, and Churchill brings forth the character’s well-meaning and ordinary yet courageous attitude.

The play is a purposefully silly endeavour that, as some dress rehearsal jitters are ironed out, should give a fun, lighthearted account of one of the great mystery stories, and one of the greatest fictitious detectives there ever was.

Bard to Broadway’s production of Baskerville debuted in the evening of Tuesday, July 3 at the Village Theatre (110 West 2nd Ave., Qualicum Beach). Performances continue until mid August.

For a full schedule and for info on tickets, go to b2btheatre.com/our-season-2/ or call 250-752-4470.

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