Advertisement
  1. Stage

Review: 'Hound' at the Straz is a pack of laughs

Published Jan. 14, 2014

From books to television to the big screen, producers always wrap the classic tales of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in mystery and wit.

Rarely, though, has the detective duo's portrayal been as laugh-out-loud funny as Jobsite Theater's The Hound of the Baskervilles, running through Feb. 2 at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts' Shimberg Playhouse.

Adapted by Peepolykus and Steven Canny, this Holmes mystery unravels on a simple set with a trio of male actors. Giles Davies plays Holmes, along with a number of other characters, David Jenkins portrays Dr. Watson, and Shawn Paonessa handles the role of Sir Henry Baskerville.

It all starts on a foggy night in Dartmoor, when the ghost of a hound kills Charles Baskerville. In the middle of the scene, as the hound growls, Charles breaks out of character to provide a humorous safety announcement.

"If you are afraid of loud noises, you may want to leave now," Davies says, joining Jenkins and Paonessa on stage.

This style, used several times, creates a greater connection to the actors, who flawlessly jump back into character.

After intermission, Davies, as himself, pretends to read an audience tweet claiming he had made the first half of the play drag. What ensues is one of the funniest parts all night: They replay the whole first half again, in superspeed, showing the quick costume changes and other movements.

They use every piece of the play to provide laughter, from the props to the character transitions. You could spot Davies as Holmes, crawling backstage to change costumes for the next scene. When Holmes carries a plate of food in front of Watson and Watson tries to eat it, Holmes turns the plate upside down, the fake food obviously glued to the plate:

"Why would you want to eat this?"

Though some of the script borders on corny — as when Holmes uses Watson as a chair — there are many more moments of comedic genius. Without the skilled facial expressions and chemistry among the three actors, the script could have fallen short.

When the three sit fanning themselves in a sauna, towels wrapped around their suits, I feel myself getting warm. When they bounce up and down, chasing a suspect in a cab down a bumpy street, I feel a little queasy. When Watson hasn't eaten in days and stares down a lamb in a bag for sale on the corner, I suddenly feel hungry for lamb.

Some of the funniest acting comes from the slow-motion scenes. They leave no detail out, from spittle slowly flying through the air during a fight scene to Watson's arm cocking back as he shoots his gun. This attention to detail is evident throughout the play, just as Holmes would have liked.

Davies is a standout — maybe because he plays seven roles, or maybe because two of those roles are women. From a pipe-smoking, cocaine-sniffing Holmes to the love interest of Henry Baskerville, each is convincing.

Arielle Waldman can be reached at awaldman@tampabay.com.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. REO Speedwagon will perform at Clearwater's Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on March 1, 2020. Courtesy of Randee St. Nicholas
    REO Speedwagon, Gladys Knight, Kidz Bop, Art Garfunkel and more.
  2. Michael Francis leads a community chorus during one of the Florida Orchestra's Sing Out Tampa Bay sing-alongs. MICHAEL FRANCIS  |  Florida Orchestra
    The music director is entering his fifth year with the orchestra, which has a Beethoven-heavy season opening Sept. 27 in Tampa.
  3. Spymonkey's "Hysteria!" will run at the Straz Center's Jaeb Theater from Sept. 19-Nov. 3. Courtesy of Jane Hobson
    Spymonkey’s ‘Hysteria,’ Billy Cobham and ‘Crossing the Bay’ accompany dance experiences and a banned book cabaret.
  4. Patrons hit the dance floor at Tampa venue Skipper's Smokehouse in 2015. LUIS SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times (2015)
    A 12-hour party in the Skipperdome, stargazing and a family-friendly Williams Park festival provide free and cheap entertainment.
  5. A Zombie Bride is one of the characters found in one of Busch Gardens' open-air scare zones at Howl-O-Scream, which opens for its 20th year on Friday.
    Free Museum Day is coming, Howl-O-Scream opens at Busch Gardens, Billy Ray Cyrus plays for the Bucs Beach Bash and Tho Who will be at Amalie Arena.
  6. Jordan Foote (Norm) and Jonelle M. Meyer (Corky) in Jobsite's production of Steve Martin's "Meteor Shower." Courtesy of Pritchard Photography
    Steve Martin’s voice is ingrained in the absurdist comedy.
  7. Trans-Siberian Orchestra, bringing two December shows to Tampa's Amalie Arena, performs in Birmingham, Ala., in 2017. Courtesy of Anna Jones
    Seats at Stomp, Little Big Town and A Nightmare on Franklin Street are also up for grabs.
  8. Jim Jefferies in an episode of Comedy Central's "The Jim Jefferies Show." ALI GOLDSTEIN  |  Comedy Central
    Raunchy moms, YouTubers and flamenco dancers also hit local theaters. Plus, Tampa Rep opens a Pulitzer-winning drama.
  9. From left: Tim Curry as Frank N. Furter, Barry Bostwick as Brad Majors and Susan Sarandon as Janet Weiss in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." 20th Century Fox
    The popular ‘Last Podcast on the Left’ and Barry Bostwick from ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ are new to A Nightmare on Franklin Street.
  10. The children just tricked (conned) their father into letting them purchase a dog, much to his displeasure, in the Live Oak Theatre presentation of 'Cheaper By the Dozen,' which opens Sept. 13 at the Brooksville theater. Standing, left to right: Billie (Amber Marino), Martha (Quincee Willis) and Dad (Joe Santerelli). Sitting, left to right: Dan (Jase Ivie), Fredericka (Hailey Radatz), “The dog,” (Ozzie), Jackie (Cam Kennedy) and Lilly (Emily Mosher). Kris Mitten
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement