The Hound of the Baskervillesby Steven Canny and John Nicholson, adapted from the story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Directed by Mark Shanahan.
Reviewed by J. Peter Bergman
Greg Jackson, Dan Domingues, Jonathan Brody; photo: Kathleen A. Fahle
"This cursèd Grippen Mire."
Thrice. Thrice and yearly. Or so it seems to be, that every year I sit and watch this very play, first two years in a row at Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, MA and now at the Weston Playhouse in Weston, VT. It’s a fun play, a funny idea, but sometimes from this critical perspective too much is really more than enough. Still, I do like to see new people taking on a favorite work and making it their own as the three men in Weston are doing right now.
It is hard to compete with the Latin beauty of Josh Aaron McCabe but Dan Domingues is almost there. Jonathan Croy’s fabulous Watson is about to be swept out to sea by the quiet nuttiness of Jonathan Brody and the romantic heights that Ryan Winkles can achieve in the role of Henry Baskerville are almost surpassed by Greg Jackson. Bravo, Weston, for entertaining an audience that has had wonderful opportunities to see this show with that exceptional cast of resident actors in Lenox. Bravo, again, for utilizing the directorial talents of Mark Shanahan whose own experiences with this play done elsewhere have given him some vision and insight into this slapstick comedy culled from a more serious mystery.
The cast in Weston, as indicated, is spectacular. With the exception of Brody who only takes on a few roles, the enormous variety of parts undertaken by Jackson and Domingues is mind-boggling.
Hugh Landwehr has provided most workable set and Patricia E. Doherty appropriate costumes. Sean Hagerty underscores the show with sound effects and music that will almost make you think you’re watching a film until the actors do what they need to do to break through the fourth wall and take us all on. Christopher S. Chambers has done a fine job lighting this labyrinth of a comedy, so much of which takes place at night out on the moor with the death-throws of the great Grippen Mire laying in wait for unsuspecting victims.
The romantic period stage at the Weston Playhouse lends itself perfectly as a frame for this play.
Produced in association with The Cape Playhouse in Dennis, Massachusetts where the company played this for two weeks prior to coming to Dorset, Vermont, the show already has a comfortable feeling about it, as though the actors have already perked their parts and perfected their onstage relationships. Seen at a final preview, the play was quite ready to meets its audience.
The Hound of the Baskervilles plays at the Weston Playhouse, located at 703 Main Street, Weston, Vermont through July 7. For information and tickets, call the box office at 802-824-5288.