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In Falcon’s “Baskerville”, the Trail Leads to Plenty of Laughs

Review by Laurel Humes of “Baskerville”: Falcon Theatre

The laughs come easily and often in Falcon Theatre’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, onstage through May 18.

The show, by prolific and popular playwright Ken Ludwig, is a humorous adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles. Much of the fun comes in watching three actors play over 40 characters (reference Wikipedia; I lost count!).

You know it’s a send-up from the start, when a shadow puppet represents the killer Hound with “blazing eyes and dripping jaws.” The Hound is responsible for the death of Sir Charles Baskerville, a farcical dying also played for laughs.

And so the game is afoot! Here come famous detective Sherlock Holmes (Matt Dentino) and his sidekick Doctor Watson (Alan Kootscher) to investigate.

Dentino gives us the traditional Holmes, with his pipe and deerstalker hat, elegant bearing and language, and intellect bordering on arrogant. When he asks Watson’s opinion, it’s mostly to shoot him down.

Kootscher’s Watson does wear an almost constant expression of befuddlement, interrupted by brief glimpses of pleasure in Holmes’ praise.

These two fine actors carry the weight of the narrative, leaving Nick DiMuzio, Dan Robertson and Jordan Trovillion to make up the rest of the large “cast.” And they are over-the-top terrific.

Trovillion veers from housekeeper to spurned lover to adolescent boy with ease and a wonderfully expressive face. British accents, German accents, unrecognizable accents played for laughs – she’s got all covered.

DiNuzio’s largest role is Henry, the heir to Baskerville, following the death-by-Hound of Sir Charles, which he also played!  Henry is from Texas, certainly a playwright gimmick to add a pistol-toting but affable good old boy to the mix. And to give him lines like: “This is so gloomy, it reminds me of my mama’s funeral. Without the liquor, of course.”

Robertson’s repertoire ranges from friend to the Baskerville to crippled servant to possibly deranged butterfly collector. He brings humor and wit to each character.

There are some hilarious bits. As the characters move through a portrait gallery, the same actor changes hair and headpieces to become different paintings, all while holding a picture frame to his face. Cardboard cutouts represent a carriage and then a train, with the actors’ physical motions completing the gag.

Director Derek Snow keeps the pace moving quickly, so the numerous costume changes (kudos to designer Tara Williams) have to be fast. The changes also are played for laughs, especially in the final scene, when DiNuzio is half Texan Henry and half Scotland Yard detective, back and forth.

The Baskerville script is witty, but it also needs this talented cast and director to make the show laugh-out-loud hilarious.

The show continues through May 18 at Falcon Theatre, 636 Monmouth St., Newport. Tickets are available at 513-479-6783 or at http://falcontheater.net.