In South Gloucestershire’s first and only professional theatre, above a heritage centre in Warmley, Sherlock Holmes is given a fresh twist by being female. The avuncular Jasmine Smart plays our hero, a woman playing a man playing a woman but for most of the time, a man.
This retelling comes from the pen of Bruce Fellows, who won a competition organised by Southwest Scriptwriters. Hilary Statt’s set is minimal with a few bags and cloth becoming a carriage, and a window frame being held in one hand with a candle in the other. This being The Mystery of the Hound of the Baskervilles, the titular canine’s eyes glow behind the stage.
The direction of Adrian Harris is fluid, with characters appearing from all around the audience. It is a credit to the versatility of the actors that although there are just four of them, there seems more.
The striking Ayvianna Snow stands out as gutsy American heiress Henrietta Baskerville, while Martin Whatley is a suitably bumbling Dr Watson and David Cole brings a menace to his trio of roles.
A music hall number, You Are My Honeysuckle, had one older gentleman in the front row on opening night tapping his foot, in a production where the sound design and dialogue did not always flow smoothly.
The conceit of a female Holmes did keep proceedings interesting in a production far from elementary.
The Mystery of the Hound of the Baskervilles is at the Brass Works Theatre until January 5. Click here for more information.