„THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES” – The New Play at The English Theatre of Hamburg

Be very careful. I’s eery to cross to fen in the night

How creepy it is to cross through the fen when it’s billowing with haze, mists writhing like phantoms, bine weaving through bushes. Up squirts a springlet beneath every step when hissing and singing come from the gap. How eery it is to cross through the fen when the reed bank rustles in the breeze.

This is the first verse of Annette von Hülshoff’s ballad “The Little Lad in the Fen.” The great German poet and composer (1779 until 1848) wrote this gripping ballad as a young woman. Annette was born into an aristocratic family and grew up in a moorland landscape in Westphalia. She knew all about the dangers lingering behind bushes, crippled trees and in dark waters. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s masterpiece “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is set on the scary grounds of Dartmoor in the County of Devonshire.

The Hound of Baskerville reloaded

The gripping legend of a gigantic hound hiding in the moors near Baskerville Hall has fascinated generations of readers ever since it was published in the early 20th century. It is the best-known novel of Sir Arthur’s crime fiction. What’s more, there exist a dozen films featuring well-known actors such as Basil Rathbone and Benedict Cumberbatch in the part of master detective Sherlock Holmes trying hard to catch the murderous beast in the moors.

For sure, Watson, we’ll catch that beast

Dear spectator, do forget all these movies you have ever seen in the cinema or on TV. Welcome to the English Theatre and to a new fascinating version of the mysterious beast haunting Dartmoor.

How dare you, Steven Canny and John Nicholson, steal a piece of highly dramatic literature from one of the most popular British authors and convert it into a farce! The outcome: a comic thriller that makes spectators roar with laughter during the whole performance. Just the right thing for these long gray and rainy winter evenings.

No Crime without Atonement

Rumor has it that the Baskervilles are cursed since one of their ancestors, Sir Hugo Baskerville, kidnapped a farmer’s daughter. While trying to escape from her pursuer she collapsed and died. A scandal! The rural population called for revenge. A couple of days later Sir Hugo was found dead in the moors, killed by a demonic hound which has haunted Dartmoor ever since, causing the premature death of many Baskerville heirs. When another member of the family, Sir Charles Baskerville, is killed, Dr. James Mortimer travels to London to meet master detective Sherlock Holmes in his residence in Baker Street. The doctor asks Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson to investigate the mysterious death of his friend Sir Charles. A supernatural phenomenon? Holmes being a fan of provable facts does not believe the legend of the gigantic hound hiding in the moors. For him, the greatest detective on earth, it is a challenge to solve the Dartmoor mystery. Dr. Mortimer is enthusiastic about Holmes’ decision since he fears that Sir Henry Baskerville, the heir to the title and estate, could be the next victim of the beast. The young man is just on his way from Canada to England to take possession of Baskerville Hall. He ignores an anonymous note that warns him to stay away from Dartmoor.

Dear spectator, just follow the arrival of Sir Henry in England and pay attention to every action taken by Holmes and Watson. There are so many people involved that you risk to lose track.

Two Snoopers trying to reveal a mystery

Do you see the hound behind the bushes, master?

Knickerbockers, deerstalker cap and pipe. You will easily recognize Holmes and Watson by their professional outfit. Now they are on their way into the mysterious grounds of the moors behind Baskerville Hall. Will they be successful in finding the howling man-killing beast? Guess what is really behind that narrative of the hound that terrorizes the county. By the way, what about the convict that escaped from Dartmoor prison. Is he involved in the killings? Wait and see. You will be flabbergasted.

Two ingenious authors knocking the dust out of an old book

Bother that classical stuff! Steven Canny and John Nicholson’s intention was to knock the dust out of Arthur Conan Doyle’s master thriller and make it fit for a younger generation of theatergoers. The result is a hilarious play with lots of funny gags that amuse the spectators from the first until the very last moment. It is just the right thing for the Mundsburg stage that masters this very intricate plot with only three actors. Katherine Rodden, Charlie Tripp and Benjamin Press are to be seen in altogether eighteen different parts. These outstanding actors slip in no time from one role into the next. Wow! Katherine, a pretty blonde, clad in an elegant suit including vest and tie, plays several male parts. A tribute paid to today’s genderism. Charlie Tripp, who had to study numerous parts – male and female – did this job in less than six weeks. Respect, Charlie! Benjamin Press is perfect in the part of Holmes’ sidekick Dr. Watson.

Our thanks go to director Paul Glaser and his “gang” of three marvelous performers. Thank you all for this perfect performance.

Last performance of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” on January 20, 2024. Tickets under phone number 040 – 227 70 89 or online under www.englishtheatre.de

Next premiere: “Lobby Hero” by Kenneth Lonergan on February 5, 2024

Photos: Stefan Kock/ETH




Author: Uta Buhr

Ehrenpräsidentin Die Auswärtige Presse e.V., freie Journalistin, Reise, Wellness, Kultur (Theater, Ausstellungen)