The Hound of The Baskervilles @ Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Jake Smith's production of Arthur Conan Doyle's novel is a thrilling, fun and cleverly devised Gothic adventure
The Hound of the Baskervilles opens with a jump. The house lights and crackling gramophone suddenly cut out and we are plunged into darkness, from which the previously-concealed actors appear as if by magic. This initial jolt sets us in good stead for the experience to come; a thrilling, fun and cleverly devised Gothic adventure. This new production by Northern Stage is deeply faithful to Arthur Conan Doyle’s original novel with few alterations to the original plot, and preserves both the rich Victoriana and the feeling of adventure and excitement present in the original stories.
Amy Watts’ resourceful set design grounds the production in its Gothic settings, exploiting every nook and cranny of a single set and backdrop to produce Holmes’ study, the wilds of Dartmoor, and frightful visions of the monstrous Hound. In particular, a miniature of the imposing Baskerville Hall, complete with candlelight flickering in the windows, grounds our sense of isolation and foreboding.
The four actors ably occupy a rotating cast of characters – Siobhan Stanley’s various comedic turns are delightful, and James Gladdon’s Sherlock Holmes captures both the mania and thoughtfulness of the iconic character. Gladdon's decision to play Holmes with a Geordie accent is also a nice touch in context of Northern Stage’s Newcastle roots. But it is Jake Wilson Craw in the central role of Doctor Watson who shines throughout, perfectly pitching the balance of stern gentleman and kindly doctor behind a neatly twirled moustache.
The moments of horror cut sharply between the rather genteel dialogue, aided by Michael Morgan’s richly colourful lighting and Jeremy Bradfield’s multi-layered sound, which build an enveloping, tight atmosphere of dread in the intimate space of the Tron’s Changing House. Through dream sequences, flashbacks and visions, the tension grows, and when we finally meet the eponymous Hound, it does not disappoint.
A lovingly faithful adaptation and a rich slice of Victoriana, The Hound of the Baskervilles is perfect autumnal fare, especially for those looking for a Gothic thrill in the lead up to Halloween.
Run ended; tour continues until 9 Nov