If you’re after a night of terrific comic acting, a twisted plot and wonderfully clever scene changes you can’t go past Castle Hill Players present production, BASKERVILLE : A SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERY, by the master of farce Ken Ludwig.  Arthur Conam Doyle’s classic The Hound of the Baskerville is transformed into a hilarious romp, moving from an 1880s London sitting room to dark manor houses, bleak moors of Devonshire, the baying of a devilish hound and of course, a few murders.

Five talented and enthusiastic actors perform around 40 characters with the help of numerous accents, hats, wigs, moustaches and costumes. Very cleverly directed by Jason Spindlow, with assistance from Ben Freeman, the production is loaded with incredibly quick-change artistry, sight gags, sound effects and the inventive use of basic props, (the rabbit is not to be missed), which flesh out the fast-moving story. In many ways the unravelling of the mystery in “Baskerville” is secondary to how creatively the play is staged.

Sherlock Holmes, played with cool and apparent rationality amid the chaos, by David Allsop, is on the case. The male heirs of the Baskerville line are being dispatched one by one and as the case progress various suspects appear.

Peter Phan as Holmes’s ever loyal admirer & assistant Dr Watson adds some well-timed comic relief. He also delivers the extended narrative passages setting up the storyline and the changes in place and time.

The real fun of the production, however, is created and sustained by the three other actors who play dead and living members of the Baskerville family, murder suspects and the characters who live on the moors, surrounding areas and in London. They combine with spot on timing dragging each other and Dr Watson into some very sticky situations with remarkably quick changes in costumes and personalities.

Jonathon Burt is excellent in his role as the young Texas cowboy and heir to the fortune, Sir Henry Baskerville, who has come to claim his inheritance. His other roles include his own ancestors, a police inspector, Daisy and a tobacconist.

Josiah Lucas dashes around the place and is transformed from Dr Mortimer to a man with a black beard, Lucy, Victor, and a variety of other odd locals.

Lana Jean Hill is tremendous fun and highly energetic in all her roles such as Mrs Hudson, a German maid, nurses, and even the hound. Keep a look out for her with a pram on the windswept moor!

The tech crew hit all the right marks. Sean Churchward designed the moody lighting, George Cartledge designed the often-ominous sound, and Leone Sharp the costumes. The projection images by Peter Phan helped establish the various locales and were complemented by Maureen Cartledge’s set design.

Highly Recommended. For a top night’s entertainment head to the Pavilion Theatre, Doran Drive, Castle Hill Showground with the show playing untill 9th December 2023.

Production photography by Chris Lundie