No, the malevolent Moriarty won’t be masterminding malicious mishaps in Douglaston. Instead, the ominous fog of the British moors will creep across the stage. Yes, it will carry a deadly secret–the fiery “Hound of the Baskervilles”!
On opening night, the audience was extremely enthusiastic. Their catcalls and loud applause demonstrated their approval. Once again Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s masterful detective generated the usual zeal.
In this adaptation by Tim Kelly, director Eric Leeb avoids frantic scenes with violent interplays. In its place, Sherlock Holmes (Brian J. Payne) provides an extremely purposeful interpretation, measuring each syllable and movement. These pauses force the audience to hang onto every word. The intended effect is extraordinary suspense and tension. Only anguished Lady Agatha (Marie Cook) speaks in the same deliberate manner as Holmes. What secrets do they share?
As Dr. Watson, Joe Pepe takes a more familiar stance as his slightly bumbling and easily flustered sidekick. Pepe successfully provides a light hearted counterpoint to the dark and dire storyline.
Several of the mansion’s servants (Heidi Warm, Cathy Cosgrove, Fred J. Kaminski) afford additional melodrama. What clandestine cover-ups do they cleverly carry out? Of course, the obligatory femme fatale is played by lovely Elizabeth Bisciello. Her unlikable “brother” played by Kevin Knois has somehow created a connection with seemingly nonthreatening Laura (Laurie Radziewicz).
Sir Henry Baskerville, well played by Dan Bubbeo, has a huge crisis of his own. The gigantic ghostly hound that has mysteriously killed his predecessors may well kill him! Or is it all a heinous hoax contrived to cheat the Baskervilles of their wealth?
Although the original Holmes canon was written in the 1890s, the current production occurs “in the not too distant past.” Holmes purists might take exception to this change of sequence but it doesn’t detract from the actual story. There are also numerous special effects (lights/sound by Robert Stivanello, Frank Mannle, Eugene Sullivan) which are sometimes deliberately overpowering. All of these modifications keep the audience at just the right level of suspense for this true thriller.
The Douglaston Community Theatre is housed at the Zion Episcopal Church Parish Hall on Church Street (formerly 44th Avenue) off Douglaston Parkway. Call (718) 482-3332 for information.
Check The Queens Courier for more spring productions. As always, save me a seat on the aisle.