CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Review: Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of The Baskervilles at the Barn Theatre, Cirencester

PUBLISHED: 14:12 06 November 2018

The Hound of Baskervilles at Cirencester's Barn Theatre

The Hound of Baskervilles at Cirencester's Barn Theatre


If you’re into screwball comedy – or your dog is particularly embarrassingly badly behaved – here are some clues as to why you’ll absolutely love the Hound of The Baskervilles. Go to Cirencester’s Barn Theatre and ‘Sit!’, commands Katie Jarvis

You know how your dog persistently begs, even when you’re eating things like celery? Has the bladder capacity of the Hoover Dam whenever it’s raining? Is perfectly behaved in non-threatening traffic situations, but pulls you in front of any speeding juggernaut on the vague pretext of something cat-like on the other side of the road?

(OK. Look. Maybe this is just Ruby the cocker spaniel, but...)

The point I’m trying to make is that this is nothing, absolutely nothing compared with the severe behavioural issues of the Hound of The Baskervilles. Sir Charles Baskerville has been found dead on his estate – a look of terror on his face that eclipses even Trump receiving post with the return address of Robert Mueller. Beside Sir Charles – and this is very possibly connected – are the paw-prints of a gigantic, massive, humungous hound.

Is it too late to teach this dog the more normal pastimes of ‘sit’, ‘fetch’ and ‘stay’?

My own hunch would have been to call in the Victorian equivalent of Barbara Woodhouse; or (in absolute extremis) Donald Jr and Eric (sorry to keep mentioning) to fashion it into a White House rug.

But, no! On the basis (presumably; I put my hands up here to not having read the book), that the Hound would almost certainly give itself away by, eg, the quality of newspaper it reads or its use of a walking stick, Sherlock Holmes is despatched to investigate.

And this, dear readers, is where the fun begins. (Actually – thinking about it – it begins slightly before this because we meet Holmes and Watson prior to their journey to the desolate moors.)

Look – we all know how very, very funny the moors (NB Devonshire not Moroccan invaders) intrinsically are. [One of my favourite Simon Mayo true confessions (look away now if you’re at all nice) was when four drunken wanderers found themselves on the moors in the dark, only to discover an old fenced-off mine shaft. Suddenly possessed of an urgent desire to find out how deep it was, they lobbed a couple of stones down and counted. Clearly, these stones were too small to work; so they found a huge rock; manhandled it down the shaft; started to count; wondered what the chain was snaking past them was. And then a goat rushed by, still with a clump of grass in mouth.]

And on that basis, John Nicholson and Steven Canny adapted The Hound of The Baskervilles into one of the most hilarious plays I’ve seen in ages. (Very cross with Candia McKormack, who tweeted that she’d ‘howled’ with laughter. If she hadn’t been so public about it, I could have pinched that line.)

None of the above jokes are in there – didn’t want any spoilers; luckily, the play’s are much funnier anyway.

Oh, well.

Maybe just a couple of spoilers.

Such as when Dr James Mortimer, arriving to ask Holmes to investigate the death of his friend, Sir Charles, is questioned further.

“I don’t want to be drawn,” he replies.

Which is understandable.

“Watson, put your sketchpad away,” Holmes orders.

In fact, many of the jokes don’t break the fourth wall, but demolish it.

Such as when Sir Henry, a Canadian, arrives.

“We were expecting a Canadian accent.”

“Yes. I can’t do one.”

It’s a play that’s been put on before to uproarious success; so what a great comedy to unearth once again – another stroke of brilliance by the Barn Theatre. (Each of their productions has so far offered something completely different: what confidence; what innovation; what fun!) What I can’t believe is that any other production has had a better cast than this current trio of brilliance.

Dominic Brewer is almost-Canadian Sir Henry; Hywel Dowsell is the inappropriate drawer Dr Watson; Herb Cuanalo (can we really believe he only recently graduated from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School?!?) is Holmes. But that’s ignoring the plethora of other, multifarious characters they play along the way.

This might save money in terms of wages; but it adds to the hilarity, franticness (franticity?) of this show. I lost the plot ages before it ended. Some say long before that. But, tbh, the plot is a minor distraction.

It’s wonderful. It’s funny. It’s non-stop.

So this is a command. Walk on to the theatre, fetch a programme. And sit!

The Hound of The Baskervilles is on until November 24 at the Barn Theatre, Beeches Road, Cirencester; 01285 648255;


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & about

The Warwickshire town of Alcester is considered one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. Tracy Spiers digs below the surface to discover its hidden jewels

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I send this postcard from Cirencester, complete with the discoveries and viewpoints from four members of my family – both the young and not so young

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

One hundred years ago this month the guns fell silent, marking the end of what was to become known as The Great War. Stephen Roberts remembers the impact the war had on Cotswold lives from 1914-1918

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Being a region so steeped in history, there are plenty of locations in the Cotswolds with spooky stories from over the years. From bloody executions, eerie apparitions and headless horsemen, we pick 23 of the most haunted locations throughout the Cotswolds to visit if you dare

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

New bat cams installed at Woodchester Mansion help study protected breeds while also becoming an added attraction for visitors. Jo Barber looks at the work of one of the UK’s foremost bat experts and the mansion’s valued volunteers

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

From an all-boy, all boarding prep school for just 30 pupils, to the quietly trailblazing yet still traditional school it is today – here is a snapshot of Beaudesert over its 110-year history

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Of all the castles in the region, none have seen as much war, romance and royalty as Sudeley over its dramatic 1,000-year history. And with such a colourful and eventful past, it is easy to see why some people believe there could be spirits from bygone eras which still wander the halls and corridors to this day

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Following a record year for ‘visitor giving’ donations via local businesses, applications are invited to fund conservation projects

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

What started as a business ploy by one Cotswold firm has developed into an inspirational garden

Read more
Monday, October 8, 2018

If a bit of English eccentricity is your thing, spend an enjoyable afternoon exploring the delightful follies of Faringdon

Read more
Monday, October 1, 2018

Visitors to the village of Bourton-on-the-Water can now escape the well-trodden tourist trail at Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s beautiful Greystones nature reserve and its newly opened visitor centre

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search