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The Hound of the Baskervilles @ the Latvian Centre

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by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce (subscribe)
Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at:
There's no police like Holmes
Of all the characters in fiction, few are so beloved as the towering, slender figure with the hawk-like features, Sherlock Holmes.

Hound of the Baskervilles, ArenaArts, Simon James, Sherlock Holmes
Amanada Watson (left) plays Sherlock Holmes with Bree Vreedenburgh (as Watson) in The Hound Of The Baskervilles (Photo courtesy of ArenaArts)

No other character has so grasped and held the public's imagination as the first 'consulting detective. He is the most filmed character ever and the book The Hound of the Baskerviles is the most filmed book ever with at least nineteen versions, the first in 1904.

Nothing that popular and well-known is ever going to escape parody and pilfering and following in this tradition a version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic, adapted by Steven Canny and John Nicholson will be on stage at the Latvian Centre soon.

This version, produced by ARENAarts and directed by Simon James has three women playing fifteen roles.

Hound of the Baskervilles, ArenaArts, Simon James, Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes (Amanda Watson) and Sir Henry Baskerville (Rachael Maher) find themselves in a barking mad version of The Hound of the Baskervilles (Photo courtesy of ArenaArts)

"Whereas the original story was a serious piece of literature, the stage adaptation certainly is not," James said.

"It gets a gloriously funny and rather silly makeover, packed full of verbal humour, visual buffoonery, fast-paced changes and absolute lunacy.

"Whether audiences know much about Sherlock Holmes or not, they'll certainly get more than a laugh or two out of how we present this classic story.

"Some Sherlock Holmes fans may frown at the thought of a comedy version of The Hound of the Baskervilles but we're not ridiculing the characters nor the story just having a lot of fun in the way the characters and story are presented.

"It's a very affectionate spoof of the world's greatest fictional detective."

In terms of challenges, the original script had next to nothing in explanations of how to stage the production meaning James had to come up with many physical comedy ideas himself.

"By doing so, we've kept the flavour of the piece which sends up so many theatre techniques and conventions," he said.

"The Hound of the Baskervilles appealed because it was a hilarious play to read with its mix of verbal and physical humour and the potential to break down some theatre conventions and make fun of them," James said.

The actors break out of character to address the audience, the stage manager wanders about setting up scenes oblivious to what's going on, costumes are clothes thrown over the top of other clothes, props appear from nowhere and sound effects pop in and out at will.

Hound of the Baskervilles, ArenaArts, Simon James, Sherlock Holmes
Director Simon James, left, with The Hound of the Baskervilles cast members Amanda Watson (Sherlock Holmes) and Rachael Maher (Sir Henry Baskerville) and Jane Sherwood (stage manager) (Photo courtesy of ArenaArts)

As a fan of Sherlock Holmes mysteries, it was great to take something I like and give it a comic outing.

It's part Monty Python in presentation, part The Goon Show and part Benny Hill but all entertainment."

The Hound of the Baskervilles plays at 8pm March 21, 22, 28, 29, April 3, 4 and 5 with 2pm matinees March 23 and 30.

Tickets are $20, $16 concession or $15 each for groups of 10 or more book on 9497 5140 or email

The Latvian Centre is located at 60 Cleaver Terrace, Belmont (off Belmont Avenue).

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Why? Packed full of verbal humour, visual buffoonery, fast-paced changes and absolute lunacy
When: 2pm and 8pm
Phone: 9497 5140
Where: The Latvian Centre, 60 Cleaver Street, Belmont, West Australia
Cost: $20, $16 and $15 (for groups of ten upwards)
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