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Review: The Hound of the Baskervilles by Jenny Wren Productions

PUBLISHED: 12:17 01 December 2014 | UPDATED: 13:50 04 December 2014

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Archant

Katie Jarvis went to see a production of Sherlock Holmes’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, a production dogged by the sorts of jokes Arthur Conan Doyle’s editor foolishly erased. What was he thinking?

Watson and Sherlock (rehearsals)Watson and Sherlock (rehearsals)

Look. I know what you’re thinking. Sherlock? Without Benedict Cumberbatch?? (Even if he is, you know, getting married.) How the devil could it be done?

Sedimentary, my dear Watson!

The way you do it is this. You get Jenny Wren Productions to rewrite the Hound of the Baskervilles, and then you cast Elise Heaven as Sherlock (yes, a woman. Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?); Mike Greenman as Watson (a curious incident indeed) and the inimitably titian Murray Andrews as Sir Charles Baskerville (Which is it today? Morphine or cocaine?)

And then, as a result of this combination of talents, one of the greatest mysteries of all time unravels on stage: Who on earth booked this show for France Lynch Church Rooms?

Well, whoever it was is a genius.

This was, seriously, the funniest show I’ve seen in years. With a Monty Python meets, tries to avoid, then accidentally bumps into Monty Python script, the curtains open (well, almost, because they’re still quite closed-ish) on Sir Charles running through the night, foliage smacking against his desperate face, evil red eyes in close pursuit. And then, as Sir Charles’s terrified heart gives out, he falls dead onto the floor.

Horror! Dreadful horror!

Horror, I mean, because the cast suddenly realises they’ve begun the play without anyone having done the obligatory health and safety announcements. So there’s a pause in which Sir Charles awkwardly comes back to life to help explain where the emergency exits are located, and to give a warning about the play’s contents so that anyone with low self-esteem can leave before the action begins. Again.

And so restarts an evening of sleuthing, slobbering and obvious-yet-hilarious jokes. “Show Dr Mortimer the door!” “Ah yes! It’s lovely!”

Goodness, I loved this production. I loved Elise (who, according to the programme, is psychotic, has one false eye, smokes a pipe and has a violent brother); I loved Mike Greenman, who sweated over this production more than anyone else involved (so much so that, more than once, Elise had to mop this up with an oversized handkerchief); and the brilliantly deadpan Murray Andrews who, as I could see from his Facebook page, is a devout and religious man. (Joking, Murray; joking.)

Sadly, I can’t tell you to go and see it because, according to the website, I caught the last performance. Fools! But I can advise you to go and see any other Jenny Wren production; if it’s half as good as Sherlock, then Sherlock will have been twice as good as it.

And do go to France Lynch Church Rooms, where the refreshments were sublime. As Sherlock himself said, “You know my method. It is founded upon the observation of trifles.” Again, sadly, there were no trifles; but there was excellent homemade ice cream, biscuits and fruit punch.

And, finally, do catch any other productions brought to you by Air in G – Arts in Rural Gloucestershire – which helps village halls secure superb artists and shows. Bravo for such a fab arts organisation.

As Sherlock himself observed, “‘I ought to know by this time that when a fact appears to be opposed to a long train of deductions it invariably proves to be capable of bearing some other interpretation.”

Nope. Haven’t a clue either.

To find out more, visit www.jennywrenproductions.co.uk and airing.co.uk; and, for a completely unconnected experience, read The Hound of the Baskervilles.

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For more from Katie Jarvis, follow her on Twitter: @katiejarvis

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