Last gasp spooks for top play

The Hound of the Baskervilles at Lytham Hall
The Hound of the Baskervilles at Lytham Hall

The Hound of the Baskervilles, Lytham Hall

As darkness fell, the towering trees of Lytham Hall provided just the right backdrop and atmosphere for Oliver Gray’s skillful adaptation of Conan Doyle’s tale of mystery and horror, largely set at the spooky Baskerville Hall on Dartmoor.

Illyria’s versatile cast of four, their audibility always exemplary, immediately establish a strong rapport with a sizeable and responsive audience, playing 23 roles between them.

This is Illyria’s style and forte and they rightly make no apology for it.

Liv Spencer, tall and commanding as Sherlock Holmes, excels, while Nick Taylor, a northern, energetic and often bewildered Watson, sustains the demanding narrator’s role superbly.

Lee Peck and Rachel O’Hare provide much welcome humour in a necessarily wordy play with a variety of accents and inspired slow-motion miming, particularly in Holmes’ final explanation of the mystery.

The inventiveness of an Illyria production is admirable, especially in attention to detail of costumes and sound effects, while a spectacular and frightening surprise drew gasps from the audience during a scene lit only by handheld torches.

Oliver Gray cleverly takes the characters and the action close to a parody of themselves and the genre and yet this spoofy approach makes the whole all the more credible in this five-star production.

TOBY STIRLING