Sherlock Holmes and the Sound of the Baskervilles

Adding a dollop of lyrical humour to classic literature is something that never fails to be amusing. Just like The Muppets in Dickens’ Christmas Carol, Two Shades of Blue have turned Arthur Conan Doyle’s tale of horror into an enjoyable hour of comical farce. Unfortunately, they don’t quite have the aplomb or wit of the Muppets to pull this off fully. It’s an hour of comedy that is fun, but often rather predictable.

The traditional story has been reinvented here, getting rid of the hound and focussing instead on the scheming Miss Marple, who attempts to rise in the ranks of detectives by breaking up Holmes and Watson. Her plan is simple: get the aristocratic Baskerville family to kill one another off and frame Watson for the murder. This does result in some funny stuff - for example, the scene in which the Baskerville’s attempt to kill one another whilst arguing over the correct enunciation of ‘scone’ is very funny.

There are music parodies galore, incorporating songs from The Sound of Music, The Lion King, Oliver, and even The Beatles. Unfortunately, the cast don’t have strong enough voices to really pull of the musical factor of the show. The singing isn’t spectacularly bad, but it’s too lacklustre to have full comedic effect. The questionable singing is forgivable when the songs still draw laughs, but often they fall flat, and the lyrics are the kind that raise a gentle smile rather than leaving your sides aching from laughter.

Gareth Smith gives a scene-stealing performance as the hapless Watson though. Watson’s somewhat meta-fictional narration and playfully self-aware comments about the tale are hilarious. The meta-fictional aspect of the show will raise a chuckle from anyone who loves a good narrative-related joke.

For a show that is so deliberately trying to be funny, it’s surprising how few laughs it draws from the audience. Much of the comedy feels dated with plenty wordplay and timid laughs but no real belters. It’s more of a gentle farce than a riotous comedy, but a fun way to spend an hour nevertheless.

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The Blurb

Holmes and Watson valiantly sing their way through this hilarious farce. Can Miss Marple's twisted logic make the Baskervilles do their moral duty by committing murder? Sell-out 2010, **** (Scotsman). www.twoshadesofblue.org.uk.

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