Comedic Baskerville play resurrects classic literary heroes

CRIME: Blake Selmes as Dr Watson and Joshua Waters and Sherlock Holmes in the new Leider Theatre comedy Baskerville. Photo: Danny Scott.

CRIME: Blake Selmes as Dr Watson and Joshua Waters and Sherlock Holmes in the new Leider Theatre comedy Baskerville. Photo: Danny Scott.

There is no more iconic a duo than Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson.

A brooding, mysterious detective possessing uncanny investigative skills and a distorted appetite for justice alongside a doctor who, often the voice of reason, shares a striking knack for unravelling narratives. 

Despite the dozens of interpretations on this immortalised friendship, there is an irrevocable, transfixing bond between the two which showers over every frugal crime scene or hunt. 

The Lieder Theatre’s Baskerville – A Sherlock Holmes Mystery was therefore a premeditated claw at everyone’s child like yearning of becoming a detective.

The play was based on the 1902 The Hound of Baskervilles written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This show, which opened to a packed crowd on Wednesday night, was written by popular American playwright Ken Ludwig and directed by Chrisjohn Hancock. 

Like every good Doyle mystery, the story begins with an unexpected death. Set in the gloomy Dartmoor of England’s West Country, the body of Sir Charles Baskerville (Harrison Treble) is found with the locals believing he died at the hands of a supernatural beast.

The legend which has left a scar onto the minds of all those close to Baskerville roars into London where a reluctant Watson (Blake Selmes) and intrigued Holmes (Joshua Waters) take on the case.

The urgency in finding the cause of his death is accentuated by the arrival of Sir Hugo Baskerville (Harrison Treble) the nephew and heir to the property. 

More characters birth more motives. The timeline quickly becomes diluted and the characters increasingly suspicious. 

Blake Selmes’ narration, the favourite offsider thrown into the role of a country bodyguard, effortlessly relates to the audience while simultaneously fanning the flame of Holmes’ fame. 

Outside of Joshua Waters and Blake Selmes, each actor took on a minimum of four characters. Ryan Paranthoiene, Harrison Treble, Martin Sanders and Courtney McKenzie should be commended for their colourful versatility on stage.

DIVERSITY: Stapleton (Ryan Paranthoiene) and Sir Hugo Baskerville (Harrison Treble). Photo: Danny Scott.

DIVERSITY: Stapleton (Ryan Paranthoiene) and Sir Hugo Baskerville (Harrison Treble). Photo: Danny Scott.

Their seamless transformation was a testament to the professionalism and accession of the theatre itself.

But even more so, it was the astute stage directions which stood out. 

The traditional stop-start make up of theatre was cleared for a seamless collation of movie like scenes. There was no fear of an overtly moving door or table, instead, movement was incorporated into the very seams of the strengthening narrative. 

This decision also lent itself to the fabric of Doyle’s comedic fictional world.

Comedy, in all its variations, bears a core value of silly and simplistic fun. A modern viewer would compare the humour to a subtle Monty Python skit or a more decisive Fawlty Towers subplot, all while retaining the classic cornerstone of the beloved crime teller. 

Amidst this flurry it was Martin Sanders and Courtney McKenzie who amazed the audience. This duo was intuitive, confident and admirable.

It is not easy taking on a story as familiar as Holmes and Watson adventures, but the cast and crew took on the challenge gallantly and proved our most loved heroes are never idle.  

This marked for many in the crowd a renewed focus to the theatre and a new creative chapter. 

The show is suitable for children and will continue every Friday, Saturday and Wednesday until September 2.

For bookings or more information contact the Lieder Theatre on 4821 5066.