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‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ Presents Demon Dog, Dead Body and Plenty of Laughs
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Monday, August 15, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

Chances are you’ve heard of “The Hound of the Baskervilles”—the story of Sherlock Holmes’ investigation of a monstrous beast terrorizing the foggy Dartmoor in southern England.

But you’ve never been treated to a version like The Liberty Theatre Company is presenting through Sept. 4.

The Liberty Theatre Company’s hilarious adaptation of Arthur Conan Coyle’s 1901 classic is designed to leave you howling like the fabled hound, thanks to its verbal slapstick, absurd scenarios and comic performances. And, yes, it features a mystery, a family curse, a runaway convict, forlorn love and tragedy.

“It’s fast, it’s funny and it’s funky,” said Audra Honaker, a Company of Fools alum who plays a variety of roles in the fast-paced comedy.

The Liberty Theatre Company will present this rip-roaring version of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” Thursday, Aug. 18, through Sunday, Sept. 4, at the Wood River High School Performing Arts Theater on the Community Campus in Hailey.

The show starts at 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 18 with a Pay What You Feel Preview Night. And it ends with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Sept. 4.

The play was adapted by Steven Canny, a writer and producer for BBC Radio, and John Nicholson, part of the award-winning comedy theatre trio Peepolykus. The two had written two plays--“A Dulditch Angel” and “Origins” together.

Not even they could probably have imagined the liberties the Liberty Theatre Company would take in casting the play with an all-female cast (think: Shirley Holmes, not Sherlock!)

“My idea was to cast a percentage of the cast as female because I think doing so is a good idea—it fits the times we live in,” said Director Neil Brookshire, who appeared in such Company of Fools productions as “Peter and the Starcatcher” and “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley.”

“Historically, theater has been dominated by men—there are fewer plays like this written for females,” he added. “There’s nothing wrong with tradition, but I think it’s fun to open it up and try something new. A lot of action films were almost entirely male. Now we’re seeing more all-female action films, and it’s refreshing because it’s not the same old thing.”

Brookshire said he was terrified by the mysteriousness dog on the moors and the specter of people dying when he listened to an audiobook of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of Baskervilles.”

The version the Liberty Theatre Company is doing is not as terrifying

“One way of processing horror is to take a comic look at a classic, very well-known story. We have three actors playing a large number of roles—they literally switch from scene to scene and character to character at a drop of a hat so it’s meant to be funny. It’s fun to see the actors changing roles quickly, and I think the audience will buy into that,” he said.

Brookshire said he likes how quickly the play moves, even as it hits all the most important points of the story: “You get that it’s a mystery, but you don’t get bogged down by too much drama.”

Doyle was inspired by real-life people and places, including a squire thought to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for immortality, as he wrote Sherlock Holmes’ most famous case. Though a hundred-plus years old, the story is very fitting for this time as Sherlock Holmes challenges the superstitions about the supposed Baskervilles curse with scientific facts.

 “It’s such good writing that you don’t know for a long time what is truth,” Brookshire said. “Arthur Conan Doyle laid the groundwork for every police show we watch today from ‘Bones” to “CSI.’ ”

Jessica Mayne, starred in Company of Fools’ “4000 Miles,” plays the obsessive-compulsive detective with the deductive powers of a Superman.

“It’s a great play--one that puts a new spin on, one that brings new energy to the story,” she said. “Sherlock is a genius who wants to be best at everything. He’s never satisfied.”

Aly Wepplo, who also played in several Company of Fools productions before becoming a member of the new Liberty Theatre Company, will play Dr. Watson, Sherlock Holmes’ famous sidekick.

“This Dr. Watson spends a lot of time being confused,” she said, “But he needs Sherlock and, in the end, you realize Sherlock needs him, too.”

IF YOU GO…

Performances are at 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays from Aug. 18 through Sept. 4. Sunday performances are at 2 p.m.

  • The Liberty Theater Company is offering a variety of special opportunities.

Thursday, Aug. 18, 7 p.m.—Pay What You Feel Preview night

Saturday, Aug. 20, 7 p.m. Date Night! Buy One Ticket and get the other for half price.

Sunday, Aug. 21, 2 p.m.—A First Responders Appreciation Performance with Talkback with the director and actors following the performance. First Responders will have the opportunity to buy two half-priced tickets.

Sunday, Aug. 28, 2 p.m.—Educator Appreciation Matinee Performance with Talkback to follow. Educators will have the opportunity to purchase half-priced tickets.

Saturday, Sept. 3, 7 p.m. Executive Director JD McDonnell will match all ticket sales up to $3,000 to benefit the Relight the Liberty Campaign to address the historic theater’s structural issues so it can reopen to the public.

Sunday, Sept. 4, 2 p.m. Closing matinee with Talkback.

Purchase tickets at https://www.libertytheatrecompany.org/baskervilles-ticket-purchase-page.

RELIGHT THE LIBERTY THEATER CAMPAIGN

The Liberty Theatre Company has until the end of the year to raise nearly $2 million to address structural problems in Hailey’s Liberty Theatre and improve the HVAC system to meet Actors Equity specifications. It has raised about $850,000 so far.

To learn how you can help, visit the Relight the Liberty campaign page at https://www.libertytheatrecompany.org/the-liberty-building.

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