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Baskerville, Mercury Theatre

How wonderful to be back in the theatre again, after such a long break. And delighted to see the Mercury Theatre in all its new glory.

We were privileged to go on a tour before watching the show and what a difference the backstage area is now. With 13 dressing rooms, a dedicated rehearsal space dance studio and meeting rooms, as well as new wardrobe space workshops and green room. Everything is now custom made for the highest standard of productions. And this is what we expect at the Mercury Theatre. We also had the opportunity to sample a meal in the new cafe. And while the food itself was an excellent quality. There are still a few hiccups with the service, which I'm sure will be remedied in the coming weeks and months. But this certainly gives a new and exciting buzz when entering the theatre itself.

So on to Baskerville.

Clearly from its title, it relates to Sherlock Holmes, and the Hound of the Baskervilles. This is a hugely entertaining play featuring just five actors, and over 40 characters. So needless to say, we always knew this was going to be an interesting production. Under the expert Direction of Ryan McBride, the small cast jumped from accent to accent, accomplished amazing feats of physical comedy and delighted us throughout.

One of the highlights of the show was the technical side. It was so slick in the scene changes and the projections and flying in of set pieces. In addition, the cast moving the furniture at high speed, kept the action going which was excellent as I personally hate slow scene changes.

Richard Ede led the cast as Sherlock Holmes. His strong stage presence was centre point for much of the plays comedy business. He was solid and a safe pair of hands giving us a quick witted and focused Holmes which is exactly what we all expect from the Conan Doyle hero.

Eric Stroud as Doctor Watson was essentially the plays narrator and it’s hard to believe he is a recent graduate from LAMDA as his performance was equal to his fellow performers who have many more years of experience.

The other 3 actors played multiple roles, Naomi Peterson as the only female in the cast switched between many accents and characters and impressed us with some fantastic quick changes. Phil Yarrow embraced his many characters which concluded when he did the old half and half costume trick – we loved that.

However, the real star of this show was Marc Pickering. His many faces, accents and postures had us in stitches. He was the king of physical comedy and was spot on with every character. His comic timing was perfect, and the audience lapped him up.

This show had all the elements of pantomime but in a slightly more upmarket production. The fact that we, the audience, knew the cast were multi-tasking, rapidly changing characters and also because we were aware when it didn’t quite go to plan - we loved that. With so many belly laughs throughout the production, the audience were literally in stitches. There were so many beautiful comic touches throughout the play which I won’t go into as I wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone still to watch the show, but they were expertly handled.

Huge credit also to the Wardrobe Department who have clearly worked their socks off to create so many quick change costumes which looked all looked amazing.

If you haven’t got your tickets yet then believe me, you should!

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