Bad puns, bring ‘em on. Crazy accents, exaggerated characters, physical humor — it’s all there in Billings Studio Theatre’s production of “Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery.”
The comedy/farce opens on Oct. 27 and runs through Nov. 11. For tickets or show times, call BST at 248-1141.
Playwright Ken Ludwig takes Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes mystery, “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” and gives it a comedic touch. And the crew at BST takes the madcap show one step further, ramping it up with nods to popular culture, like the balloon from “It” to add another level of intrigue.
Directed by BST’s executive director A.J. Kalanick, “Baskerville” features 42 characters all played by five actors. Vincent Raye plays Sherlock Holmes and Robert Bertrand plays his sidekick Dr. Watson, the only straight characters in the play. Jayme Green, Cole Johnson and Kelsey Keating play the other 40 characters, sometimes changing costumes and accents as they dash across the stage.
There are no breaks between scenes, rather Kalanick uses props and lighting to move the actors into the next scene. Set designer Jeff Boschee constructed a three-panel rotating door which rolls in and out of scenes. Kalanick engineered a banister that flips with the characters as they run back and forth in one scene. A video screen at the back of the stage is used to project images that add depth to the scenery.
"No one will ever produce a show quite like ours," Kalanick. "I love figuring out all the twists and innuendos and puns. I told the cast that they have to be willing to stretch their imaginations, and they have."
There is still a mystery to be solved in the show, but the characters are so entertaining and the physical, slapstick humor so much fun to watch, that audiences may forget to focus on the clues.
Doyle’s tale is about a cursed family, whose male members are all mysteriously killed. When the next in line comes to the moor fresh out of Texas, he has a cavalier way of looking at the danger, commenting that he feels like he's in a dime novel.
Holmes seems to live for solving mysteries, and Raye captures that.
While "Baskerville" may not be the truest portrayal of the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, it is a fun romp that even Holmes would declare, "relieves the tedium of our existence."