THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
By Toby Zinman
For the Inquirer
Spoofing Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson isn't exactly a novel notion, although this Curio Theatre parody of The Hound of the Baskervilles by Steven Canny and John Nicholson gives "Elementary" a whole new meaning.
If you stick it out until Act Two, things suddenly get funny. Steve Carpenter, who's been playing Sherlock Holmes with an off-again on-again Russian accent, is outraged to learn that somebody has tweeted during intermission, complaining that his performance is really slowing the show down. To fix things (and boy do they ever need fixing), he demands that they start the show over again, and proceed to run through the hour long Act One in about fifteen minutes. This is, at last, hilarious.
But then they do Act Two, just as tediously and ploddingly as they did the first version of Act One. There is a lot of quick costume change, crooked wigs, standard scenery bits as a fireplace morphs into a bed, but none of it really amuses—except the fog, the fog was funny, but then they overplayed the fog to clean up the stage, and it wasn't funny anymore.
CJ Keller, plays Watson and Harry Slack plays Baskerville; all three actors are charming and play multiple roles, slogging through the damp dialogue under Paul Kuhn's leaden direction. Kudos to Beth Johnson who provides the sound effects, including some major howling.
The running gags walk, and no game is afoot. The whole production feels like a high school romp, as though the Arthur Conan Doyle story was an English class assignment, and a few kids got together to spoof it.