Kanata Theatre’s Baskerville is Foolish Fun

An evening brimming with laughter may seem contradictory for a mystery, yet that’s precisely what Kanata Theatre’s staging of playwright Ken Ludwig’s adaptation of Hounds of Baskerville, with its comedic twist, offers—a bundle of chuckles.

The play Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery is set in London in the 1890s and features the intrepid detective Sherlock Holmes and her sidekick, Doctor Watson. The latest heir to the Baskerville has arrived from America, and the duo is tasked with untangling a confusing web of circumstances that have led to the mysterious deaths of the previous heirs.

In the rural Devon countryside, home to the Baskerville manor, residents share stories of a curse and a fearsome hound reputed to have claimed the lives of the former successors to the Baskerville fortune. It all sounds dark and sombre, yet the staging is filled with laughs as three of the five actors take on thirty-odd roles and masterfully pull them off.

In his role as Actor 1, Paul Arbour fills a third of those roles. We first meet him as the concerned Dr. Mortimer, who introduces the tale of the ferocious hound to Sherlock and Doctor Watson. It isn’t long before we see him as a hotel desk clerk, a trap driver, a train conductor and a shadowy man with the black beard that Sherlock Holmes believes is the key to unlocking the mystery. Arbour is absolutely hilarious in his debut comedic role, at times slapstick and at other moments satirical. The props and costumes—like his slightly crooked moustache or his black beard that ties on, combined with his often dishevelled appearance, serve to heighten the laughter.

Gordon Walls plays Actor 2. We first meet the 35-year veteran of the stage as he portrays Sir Henry Baskerville. The audience is in stitches with his portrayal of the dead Sir Henry. Before you know it, he is the heir apparent, Sir Charles, the famous Inspector Lestrade, and a few other roles. Walls’ acting is spot-on and enhances the fun.

The final multi-role cast member is Jenny Pfitzer. As Actor 3, she is a ball of comedic energy. In her many roles, she switches costumes and accents so frequently, sometimes literally on the fly, that it is an incredible talent just to keep from mouthing the incorrect accent.

This staging of Baskerville sees the famous crime-solving duo portrayed as women, which initially one questions why, but ultimately, the gender change does not detract from the story in any way. Elizabeth Foulds Rodgers plays the role of Sherlock Holmes, and Sarah Hearn delivers with her portrayal of Doctor Watson. In this fast-paced production, Hearns’ Sherlock is more of a supporting character, a foil to the comedic antics of the others, rather than the main presence that we have become accustomed to with other portrayals of the intellectual detective.

Set Designer Christy Bindhardt and her crew have done a magnificent job of setting the scene. It is in keeping with the high standards that audiences have come to expect from Kanata Theatre productions.

High praise goes to veteran director Michael Gareau. The cast appears to be having a great time putting on the play, and their energy is infectious with the audience, much as the audience enjoyed experiencing it on the opening night.

Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery is a fun night at the theatre. See it at the Ron Maslin Playhouse in Kanata until May 25th.

Tickets are selling quickly for this last show of Kanata Theatre’s current season, so visit https://kanatatheatre.ca to get yours before they are all gone!