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16 September 2004: The Hound of the Baskervilles - Playhouse, Nottingham, England, UK

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I know this is going to sound weird but itís the truth; the cast for this play consisted of four blokes and three of those played Dr Watson.

Itís hard for someone like me - who is clearly out of his depth here - to describe how it all worked but Iíll do my best. For most of the play, Sherlock Holmes was talking to one or more Dr Watsonís simultaneously, who each took it in turns to respond. The exception was when, for instance, one of the Watsonís put on a pinny to play the housekeeper for a moment or a cowboy hat to play the American. Despite sounding like a schizophrenicís fancy-dress party, it did seem to work and you soon became accustomed to this unusual delivery.

The story is a well-known one so I wonít say too much about it, nor will I mention the actors because they were all excellent, effortlessly balancing the (implied) horror with occasional humour. However, what I will mention is the venue. Since I last paid The Playhouse a visit a long time ago, it has now been completely refurbished and done to a very high standard. Whereas before it used to appear a little ramshackle and amateurish ( - remember the trip to toilets?), now it is superbly impressive and 100% professional, inside and out.

The Limelightís bar has undergone a complete transformation into a gleaming restaurant and the old restaurant area has been replaced by a trendy bar/lounge, all of which is decked out in polished chrome, mirrors and wood. The dťcor continues seamlessly through inside to The Playhouse itself maintaining the feel. The seating is very comfortable, even for a fidgeting six-footer like myself, and the view of the stage faultless. If you ever fancy going somewhere different on a first date, try giving the impression of being cultural and suggest The Playhouse. Itíll work wonders.

The play itself lasted approximately two and a quarter hours with an interval halfway through allowing a quick visit to the bar, however Iíve heard that earlier performances have lasted half an hour or so longer for some reason. Despite this, the play didnít appear rushed or cut short in any way. There were also some excellent special effects thrown in worthy of a mention, specifically motion and animated backdrops, surround-sound, and atmospheric lighting.

All in all, a great night out and certainly one to keep the other half happy. It makes a change from seeing The Wildhearts at any rate.

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© JimBob, livemusicreview.co.uk

The views expressed in these reviews do not necessarily reflect those of the livemusicreview.co.uk team.

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