Sherlock Holmes is an enduring character in the annals of detective fiction. A master of deduction, Holmes has been the subject of countless movies and plays, one of the most famous of which was The Hound of the Baskervilles. With a devastatingly good lead, direction by Keith Linville, and a stellar supporting cast, Port Tobacco Players’ The Hound of the Baskervilles is a well-acted mystery – so good that seeing it is elementary.
Charles Watley, as Sherlock Holmes, was simply dynamite. Watley conveyed Holmes’ love of the game of deductive detection with wit, charm and joie de vivre. It was intriguing to watch Holmes investigate the death of Sir Charles Baskerville, the last heir to Baskerville Hall.
As Holmes himself put it, “No one is above suspicion.” And throughout the show, there were a number of suspects, including John Stapleton, who was played by the top notch Timothy LaBelle, a St. Charles High School theater teacher. His mannerisms and accent were most British.
Kenneth L. Waters, Jr. was captivating as Dr. Mortimer. Waters played Dr. Mortimer as astute and urbane, especially in his scene with Holmes and Watson. Waters is a Port Tobacco Players veteran, having appeared in 1776, The Wedding Singer, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Chad Mildenstein brought an underlying humor to his role as Sir Henry Baskerville, nephew to Charles Baskerville. The scene in which he met Watson was not only entertaining, but filled out the character of Sir Henry. Mildenstein has appeared at Port Tobacco Players in The Wizard of Oz and The Who’s Tommy.
Robbie Jones’ Dr. Watson was a mentally keen sidekick to Holmes. In none of his scenes did he appear as the stereotypical bumbling Watson seen in countless films. The cast was rounded out by Melody Bishop as Lady Lyons, Katie Ludy as Mrs. Barrymore, David Ludy as Mr. Barrymore, and Santana Questa as Beryl Stapleton.
While Linville’s direction overall was solid, I felt uncomfortable sitting in the dark for three minutes at the top of the show as I waited for the opening curtain. Austin Kuhn’s set decoration was a display of British stateliness, with lots of burgundy walls and fireplaces. I loved the mural of the countryside, which gave a depth to the scenery beyond the window of Baskerville Hall. The only negative was the painted-on-the-wall books of Sherlock Holmes’ study.
I loved James D. Watson’s sound design, including his mood music. Those tunes set ominous tones to various expository monologues in the show. I loved Anne Marie Watson’s properties design, which included shiny silver teapots and Dr. Mortimer’s cane. Lisa Magee’s costumes were apropos to the period. The Hound of the Baskervilles is charming and intriguing amusement for mystery lovers.
Running Time: Three hours, with a 15-minute intermission.
The Hound of the Baskervilles plays through October 8, 2017 at the Port Tobacco Players – 508 Charles Street, in La Plata, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (301) 932-6819, or purchase them online.