They may have serious literary merits—neat satisfying plots, rich sketches of the British capital at the height of its empire, easily comprehensible discussions of rational thinking and justifiable epistemology—but Sherlock Holmes stories also contain a healthy dose of ridiculousness. The adaptation of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES by British sitcom writers Steven Canny and John Nicholson appropriates the ludicrous plot points and outlandish characters in Arthur Conan Doyle’s opus for a fast and fun theatrical comedy.
The Lantern Theater Company’s staging, under the ever-skilled direction of Matt Pfeiffer, strikes the right tone, self-aware without being self-indulgent. The key is good casting: three energetic actors assume all the roles, using fast costume changes (Julia Poiesz) and a joyous recognition of the immediacy of theater to carry the show. Damon Bonetti leads the cast with straight-faced insouciance as the famous detective, and brings his best silly game in varied other character turns. Dave Johnson carries the controlled absurdity of his Berserker Residents theater troupe to his Dr. Watson. At times Daniel Frederick treads the line between hamminess and humor, but he mostly succeeds in a versatile roundabout of secondary roles, as in his London cabbie interviewed by the detective duo:
“He asked me to go to Waterloo Station.”
“Where was he going?”
Canny and Nicholson’s jokes are rarely multi-layered, but they’re often very funny. [St. Stephen's Theater, 10th and Ludlow streets] May 28-June 28, 2015; lanterntheater.org.