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REVIEW: Baskerville a Splendid Farce (Park Square)

The ensemble for Park Square’s Baskerville. Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma.

Officially, the show currently playing at Park Square Theatre’s proscenium stage is called Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery. This somewhat fatuous, pompous title belies the earthy farce that is at the heart of Baskerville. It’s a Sherlock Holmes mystery with a moderate sprinkling of Sherlock, an extra portion of Watson, and a ton of costume changes.

There are two key artistic decisions made in the script: first, that Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson will be women, and second that the rest of the characters will be played in rapid succession by a trio of fellow actors. Whether these conceits would work as well in a more serious piece is an open question, but here the results are comedy gold. The script by Ken Ludwig (best known for his early career hit Lend Me a Tenor) flows smoothly, like the umpteen scene and costume changes.

Holmes (McKenna Kelly-Eiding) and Watson (Sara Richardson) have a chat. Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is the singular Sherlock Holmes novel to barely feature the world’s greatest detective. This means that the show’s central figure is Watson, played engagingly by Sara Richardson. Holmes, played by McKenna Kelly-Eiding, is more of a mystery figure, projecting a cryptic intelligence. The rest of the ensemble is played with increasing hilarity by Ricardo Beaird, Marika Proctor, and Eric “Pogi” Sumangil. The final dénouement, involving a few plays on the rapid costume change, is simply hilarious. The journey getting there is filled with chuckle moments and the occasional laugh-out-loud bit of staging.

If you know Sherlock Holmes stories, you probably know going in how this is going to end. As they say, though, it’s about the journey, not the destination. This journey’s pretty fun.

Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery plays through August 5 at Park Square Theatre’s Proscenium Stage.

Amy Donahue