The Hound of the Baskerville – The Radio Theatre – Veni Vedi Theatre, Theatro Technis, until 12 May 2012
Veni Vedi Theatre’s ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles – The Radio Theatre’ is being sold as an immersive event theatre and whilst it ultimately struggles to live up to this billing , it proves itself as a very entertaining romp that successfully recreates the behind-the-scenes excitement of a live radio broadcast unfolding.
The strength of Veni Vedi’s production initially appears to lie in the attention to detail placed on the period setting and the use of live sound effects to recreate the atmosphere of the Conon Doyle story. However this is a smokescreen that obscures the real talent that lies in successfully managing an ensemble cast through what is essentially one 2hr static scene.
Director Natalie-Anne Downs has pulled off a minor-key miracle in overcoming the challenge of the format. One of the draws of the play is the use of on-stage sound effects but Downs’ manages to avoid it become the focal point of the production – which rightly remains as the Sherlock Holmes’ story. In every sense it enhances the evening and adds both a technical and emotional depth, as it is first admirable for its virtuosity before falling into the background and serving to drive the tension in the story.
The play opens intelligently, running straight into the opening scene – perhaps a nod towards immersion – as the audience filters in. The adaptation of Simon William’s script provides inconsequential conversations as the radio actors arrive. This creates a free-flowing nature that adds a relaxed naturalism to the dialogue and allows the audience to feel as if they are genuinely overhearing conversations that hint of characters with lives that continue off-stage. So often in the theatre there is the sense that the audience is only being allowed to see what the playwright wishes us to see but with no scene breaks there is nowhere for William’s script to hide.