Bravo for Baskerville - NODA reviewer Stephen Hayter commends the Wisbech Angles Theatre's latest production
PUBLISHED: 14:30 14 October 2015 | UPDATED: 14:30 14 October 2015
The story is the classic Sherlock Holmes, Baskerville "big dog" extravaganza: one Sherlock Holmes; one Doctor John Watson and then three further actors playing the other 36 parts! In short, the production was hilarious and I was delighted that the actors simply milked every ounce of humour from it and left it dehydrated on the auditorium floor.
The set was perfect … in as much as they really didn’t have one! Back projection, with slides, created by the director, lighting and sound by the omnipresent Robert Williams did everything that was required - perfectly and imaginatively.
This was a good cast, as always expected from RATz, with some of my Wisbech favourites. The only completely straight role went to Adam Billitt as the legendary Baker Street sleuth, who had sole responsibility for contributing the sensible side of the story. I was much impressed by Mr Billitt in last year’s ‘Journey’s End’ by The Wisbech Players and also directed by Emlyn Moment. Adam gave a solid performance throughout this production, although potentially overwhelmed of course by the farce that unfolded around him; it was a good performance from an improving actor.
Last time out I had seen Red Vaughan (Doctor Watson) breathe new life into Fagin from the RATz musical ‘Oliver!’, and whilst I struggled to embrace the revamp, I knew immediately this was a young actor with plenty of promise. A lot of that promise was on show this night with a mostly straight performance but grabbing every chance to get laugh whenever there was one was on offer. As the play’s narrator it was Mr Vaughan’s job to hold it all together and give it a little structure which he did in fine style.
Taking only a modest eight parts was a RATz regular, Christopher Moment, who I don’t think I have seen so prominent before. The largest of his parts was the recently arrived Sir Henry Baskerville from America. It was a powerful comedy performance and he worked through all the other parts with solid new characterisations for each. I was still chuckling about his bottom wiggling, floor scrubbing routine some days later.
Another young performer full of promise is the fantastic Danae Larham. Her impressive fourteen parts gave her a chance to demonstrate a nice range of accents and her comedy timing, which was impeccable. A very small point I would note is that her physical appearance didn’t always change sufficiently and by adapting her body shape more often the differences between the parts would have been amplified. Not at all a criticism of a brilliant performance, but perhaps some thoughts for the future.
To underscore my last comment, I have awarded penultimate paragraph honours to the sublime Matthew Beare. Even amongst such a competent ensemble he shone like a Baker Street gas lamp giving a virtuoso performance and a range of vocal and physical characterisations that were as diverse as they were hilarious. This young man is good, very good . . . and I don’t think I have seen him better!
Bravo Emlyn Moment! You took a pedestrian script and turned it into a laugh-out-loud comedy masterpiece getting the very best, from the very best. The script contained not one laugh that I can recall, but all that you added had the tears running down my cheeks. My congratulations to all the cast and crew for a pretty impressive, and innovative, achievement, and for giving me another unforgettable Wisbech night out.