Some shows stick with you more than others because of the vibrancy of the cast that brings the story you’re seeing to life. Such was the case with The Hound of the Baskervilles. Starring Seamus Dever as Sherlock Holmes, Geoffrey Arend as Dr. John Watson, James Marsters as Sir Henry “Call me Hank” Baskerville, and Sarah Drew as Beryl Stapleton, this production of the classic tale, adapted by David Pichette and R. Hamilton Wright, was a ton of fun for me and my entire family.
I have been anticipating this show for months, as it was the planned family outing as a late celebration of my most recent birthday. It was a fantastic experience with a brilliant cast. Though there were a few minor stumbles in the two performances I saw, the shows were lots of fun and had great audience responses.
The Hound of the Baskervilles is a story that is well known enough that it doesn’t need a major explanation. In the shortest form possible, Lord Charles Baskerville dies and his heir, Henry Baskerville, travels from Canada to England to claim his inheritance. However, the previous Lord dies from what appears to be a family curse, so Holmes and Watson are called in to help. (This is famously a Watson-focused case, as Holmes chooses to not to join Watson on the journey to the Baskerville homestead.) Once there, the new Lord Baskerville falls in love with his neighbor, Beryl Stapleton, while Watson is on the case to discover the truth of the curse on the family. Eventually, all is revealed, with surprises for almost all involved.
This show was a lot of fun, and I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to see it twice. Seamus Dever actually played a few roles in this production, as Sherlock isn’t part of the whole case (even though fans of the story know he’s been there the entire time). I am in awe of his talents with accents and voices, since Dever had more than anyone else in the show. Each character was precise and separate from the others, which is not an easy task, especially when those other characters are actually Holmes in disguise. Best of all, his Sherlock opens and closes the show perfectly. I can honestly say that this production hosts one of my favorite Sherlocks of all time. He also had a fantastic back-and-forth with Watson, which made the characters even more realistic.
Geoffrey Arend was the true star of this production as Dr. John Watson. His Watson embodies all the best attributes of the character, and his tight, sharp accent brought the character together. He was the voice of reason in the play, and when it is available for listening, you will see what I mean. Arend’s accent was a sharp contrast to everyone else in the show and helped it keep pace. One moment of his performance I particularly enjoyed was when Watson realizes that Holmes has been there all along. When the reveal is given, Arend immediately dropped his head in the perfect hang dog expression. It added some levity to the moment, and had me snickering in the audience. It’s too bad that listeners to the audio play will be unable to see that moment, but you’ll be able to hear it for sure.
James Marsters clearly had a lot of fun as Sir Henry Baskerville. Though his accent was not Canadian in the least, and sounded more like a mix of a generic Southern accent and Southern Californian accent, it at least keeps his character from sounding like every other character in the show, who had a British accent. He also played the cowboy role really well, and on stage was typically in a long duster that worked very well with the character he played. He also played a man nearly brought down by love fantastically.
Sarah Drew’s role as Beryl Stapleton was also very good. She played the seemingly sweet, lovely women to perfection, and when the twist at the end comes with the truth being revealed, Drew turned on a switch and I believed the change. She successfully played a character who convinced everyone of how good she was that it was a genuine shock to see the change at the end. However, this also reminded me of an old Sailor Moon adage – never trust a woman named Beryl. She’s most likely evil. My only complaint with Drew’s performance was the couple of screams she had to do. I understand that the microphones used by LA Theatre Works are very powerful, but her screams came across as entirely fake.
Everyone else in the cast was also fantastic. Wilson Bethel as Jack Stapleton was phenomenal. I’m not entirely sure what techniques he used to make his performance so good, but whatever it was, it really worked. He also played another character in the show who I won’t name. Henri Lubatti was also fantastic as Dr. James Mortimer. His introduction lead directly to one of my absolute favorite moments early in the show. Christopher Neame pulled a little bit of double duty as both Sir Charles Baskerville and Mr. Frankland. He made both characters distinct, and that was highly appreciated as the latter character he played, Mr. Frankland, is not a fan of the Baskerville clan. Darren Richardson played Barrymore, the man servant of the Baskerville homestead. He did a great job, and was made better with the addition of Moira Quirk as Mrs. Barrymore. The two played a realistic couple that helped to drive parts of the story along. Quirk also needs to be acknowledged for her skill in her other part as Mrs. Hudson. She played some of my favorite moments in the entire play, including flirting with Sir Henry and showing up both Holmes and Watson by proving that after serving them for years, she too has learned about the power and importance of observation.
The Hound of the Baskervilles is a lot of fun, and the LA Theatre Works production is one for the ages. Be sure to check the show out once it’s released! Also keep an eye out for our interview with Seamus Dever!