After a month-long run at Stanley Theatre, Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery comes to the Main Stage at Surrey Arts Centre. There’s no wonder why it’s made its way out here, this play is hilarious. The acting is great, the story is fast-paced and farcical, and the directing is inspired.
Alex Zahara plays Sherlock Holmes, and I can’t help but be reminded of Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart. He’s both outlandish and absurd with the quirks audiences have come to expect from Holmes, but with a flair for the dramatic not unlike Shakespeare. Mark Weatherley as Dr. Watson holds the whole show together, “I’m not dead” is probably the best line of the whole production. His comedic timing and delivery is pointed and exact, while still feeling very natural.
With Lauren Bowler, Kirk Smith, and Mike Wasko coming together to create the rest of the 40+ character production, the whole play takes form. My favourites for each were Smith as Henry Baskerville, the American heir; Bowler as Eliza, the domestic help; and Wasko as Stapleton, the neighbour with a secret. At times the changes weren’t all-together smooth, but that’s almost the point. We’re occasionally reminded of that silliness, as actors and stage hands break the fourth wall to great effect.
The whole thing feels very… 1930s radio play or serialized mystery, and that’s exactly what makes this so enjoyable. The old school sound effects and character’s accents only help to send us back in time, to a place where Holmes and Watson solved crime without any technological help – or even a phone.
Candelario Andrade expertly arranges two projection screens to act as backdrops and props for almost every scene. I’ve seen screens used like this before, but rarely are they utilized so deftly, and in such a number of ways. At times, they almost feel like additional characters on stage.
Baskerville was one of the most fun plays I’ve seen this year, and is a perfect show to take the family to. Baskerville runs October 12-22, Tuesday to Saturday at 8pm, Saturday and Sunday at 4pm. Tickets are $25 to $55, including all fees. Box Office: 604-501-5566 | 13750–88 Avenue. Tickets Online: tickets.surrey.ca.