The country’s greatest detective gets a comedy makeover next week as The Marco Players stage an adaptation of one of Sherlock Holmes’ greatest adventures – The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s celebrated tale about the heirs to Baskerville Hall meeting their demise at the paws of a gigantic and mysterious hound, has been adapted by ‘Peepolykus’, a contemporary troupe of comedy writers and performers.
The group combine physical comedy with sharp, verbal humour to create a fast-paced surreal comedic landscape across which the well-known plot canters.
Director Richard Leigh said: “It’s a style of humour that readily appeals to me and I think will appeal to most people.”
He said the plays combining as it does elements of Laurel & Hardy slapstick, surrealist Goon Show imagery and Tim Vine style word-play.
“And we have, of course, added our own jokes into the bargain – which you can do in a play like this – and that’s been half the fun of it,” said Richard.
The tale is brought to life by a talented team of just three actors, who play multiple characters across 38 scenes, stretching from Baker Street, a London sauna room, Baskerville Hall and the wilds of Dartmoor itself.
“It’s certainly been a baptism of fire for me,”said newcomer Andrew Cropper who takes on the role of Dr Watson, “My character doesn’t change that much, but the other two barely have time to catch their breath before they’re off stage and into a different costume.”
Chelsea Blundell-Nelson plays Sherlock Holmes plus six other characters in the play.
Chelsea said: “I sometimes come off stage having to ask someone who I am next!
“But we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the rehearsal process. We’ve all had a chance to put our own spin on it which has been very rewarding.”
Ashley Hambrook, who plays Sir Henry Baskerville, the last in the line of the Baskervilles, said: “I play five other characters, including three country yokels – all subtly different, naturally.
“Not only that, but I have to reveal rather more of myself than I had expected – those of a nervous disposition, look away now – I’ve never been in a play as frenetic as this one.”
Richard, who also currently serves as the society’s Artistic Director, was inspired to direct the play after watching a performance some years ago at another theatre group with chairman Mark Weatherall.
“Then the Octagon staged it in 2021,” said Mark, “and a group of us went along to watch and we thought ‘we could do that’. We knew it would be challenging, but we knew we could do it”.
‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ runs from 22nd to 25th February 2023 at Stepping Stones Nursery, Chorley Old Road, Bolton, BL1 6AH. Tickets available from 01204 294401 or via http://www.themarcoplayers.net