'Baskerville' At Long Wharf: No Place Like Holmes
The show: "Baskerville" by Ken Ludwig at Long Wharf Theatre.
What makes it special?: This is the third comic mystery by Ken Ludwig, following "The Game's Afoot" at Ivortyton Playhouse and his adaptation of Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Orient Express" at Hartford Stage.
He seems to have cornered the market: Yes, and in the same jokey way.
Meaning?: He doesn't seem to trust the material's seriousness of purpose or the human natures of this characters. Now there's nothing wrong with being playful and winking at the audience but it's his go-to mode. Sometimes it works better than others and here it seems less out-of-whack than the "Orient Express" production which was played for yucks at the expense of the material (which dealt with the abduction and murder of a little girl).
"Baskerville" is loosely based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Hound of the Baskerville" -- not my favorite of the Homes mysteries with its oddly weird plot points but certainly his most famous, it's staged in the manner of "The 39 Steps" and "The Mystery of Irma Vep" with several actors taking on multiple fast-changing roles. The pleasure comes in the observation of the switcherooes rather than the material itself.
Who will like it?: Fans of "The 39 Steps."
Who won't?: More serious fans of Homes, and good mysteries.
For the kids?: Kids might like the silliness but they'll be perplexed by the plotting as their parents.
Twitter review in 140 characters or less: Big ham platter and less filling.
Thoughts on leaving the parking lot: After seeing these three plays I long for someone to take a real suspenseful story seriously and give it some thrills, chills and empathetic characters. Its absence on stage )think "Was it Until Dark" out "The Inspect9r Calls") is the real mystery.