If Arthur Conan Doyle saw the production of “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, at the American Heartland Theatre, he would roll over in his grave . . . roll over from laughter. The adaption by Steven Canny and John Nicholson is a hilarious romp which can be likened to the movie Airplane! and the television show, “Benny Hill.”
One of the funniest parts of the play is when John Wilson (who portrays Sherlock Holmes and seven other characters) comes to the stage after the intermission and complains about a tweet he received. The tweet said that the first act took too long. The men in the audience could then relate as the cast presents the first act again, like holding your thumb on fast forward.
Ken Remmert, who plays Watson, is superb as Sherlock Holmes sidekick. The facial expressions and body language he brings to the character makes the audience erupt in laughter, without him saying a word.
John Barrymore, Robert Downey, Jr., Peter O’Toole and Basil Rathbone are among some of the greatest actors to portray Sherlock Holmes in film, television and on the stage. None have brought Holmes to life with the flamboyant flair that John Wilson brings to the stage at the Heartland. Sir Henry Baskerville (played by Doogin Brown) declares that Mrs. Barrymore is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. Mrs. Barrymore (played by Wilson) may not be a raving beauty, but she does make the audience laugh each time she/he comes to the stage.
Doogin Brown who plays Sir Henry and several other characters is hilarious as the Canadian, even though when confronted by Holmes and Watson, admits he can’t do a Canadian accent. Brown is very good in the slap-stick style of humor that fills the stage. His timing is marvelous as he pulls off both the physical and verbal aspects of the show.
To get the full effect of the play the audience has to watch what is going on in the background and when the lights go out on stage. To fixate on the dialogue and not be attentive to the entire stage will cause the audience to miss some of the abundant humor. This program, much like the movie Airplane! probably needs to be seen at least twice just to get the majority of the hilarity that takes place.
“The Hound of the Baskervilles” runs through Feb. 24 at the American Heartland Theatre in Crown Center.