As we count down to the Barn Theatre’s comic three-hander revival of The Hound of the Baskervilles, we investigate the three actors playing 14 roles between them. We start with Hywel Dowsell, whose elementary role is as Holmes sidekick Dr Watson. Check out our interview below – and then get booking!
The Hound of the Baskervilles runs from 24 October to 24 November 2018 at Cirencester’s Barn Theatre in the Cotswolds, with a press night on 29 October.
When Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead on his estate, with a look of terror still etched on his face, and the paw prints of a gigantic hound beside his body, the great detective Sherlock Holmes is summoned from Baker Street, with Dr Watson in tow, to unravel the mysteries surrounding his death, and investigate the ancient curse of the Hound of the Baskervilles.
In the cast, recent Bristol Old Vic graduate Herb Cuanalo dons Holmes’ famous deerstalker hat with Hywel Dowsell as Watson and Dominic Brewer completing the trio. They play fourteen roles in total between them. Joseph O’Malley directs.
In conversation with… Hywel Dowsell
Hywel Dowsell plays Dr Watson in The Hound of the Baskervilles. His other stage credits include Peter Pan, The Mikado, Beauty and the Beast, Jack and the Beanstalk, My Land’s Shore and London Musical Theatre Orchestra concerts of Mack & Mabel, Candide, Honeymoon in Vegas and State Fair.
Were you a Sherlock Holmes fan before this production?
I was quite a fan, especially of the recent TV series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. They make a fine crime-solving duo. Closely followed by Rosemary and Thyme.
The Hound of the Baskervilles aside, which is your favourite Sherlock Holmes story?
My favourite story is The Case of the Missing Case… that’s Sherlock Holmes, right?
Controversial question: who’s your favourite Sherlock/Watson amongst the myriad screen versions?
Oh, it just has to be Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, doesn’t it? Their onscreen chemistry is just perfect for Holmes and Watson.
What do you think it is about Sherlock Holmes that makes him so infinitely adaptable?
Holmes is an interesting character who has a hard-to-crack personality. I believe he has a small soft spot for Watson, but this is buried deep behind his stern exterior. There’s simply no time for small talk or compassion; he’s blunt with no sense of humour but always charming.
How many roles do you play in The Hound of the Baskervilles?
I have the easy job of just playing Watson and another character in a small scene. Playing Watson, of course, is a gift because of his ‘one step behind’ nature and his relationship with Holmes. Even though our telling of the story is through comedy, there are real moments of pathos that hit the audience hard, and these can be challenging to play when you’ve just got used to the audience laughing… Hopefully.
You look like you’re having a laugh in rehearsals. Any anecdotes?
Without giving too much away, the play is manic and we are very often running around the rehearsal room and shouting, “WHAAAATT’SSS NEEEXXXTTT!!!?????” We’ll probably still be doing it on our last performance.
What’s your favourite prop in the show?
My favourite prop is Dominic Brewer. He’s so flexible.
What’s the biggest challenge with performing a comedy like this?
This play demands so much, vocally and physically, in order for the style to be right. Even though it might look like chaos (and it usually is), every gag is rehearsed within an inch of its life so that the business and punchline are clear for the audience. If you don’t laugh, it’s not our fault.
What would you say to London-based theatregoers about why they should come to Cirencester to see the show?
There’s so much more out there than just the glittering West End. Regional theatre produces some of the finest productions in the country and the Barn Theatre is no exception. Yes, there is a comedy presence in London, but after that, what else is there? The Hound of the Baskervilles in Cirencester, that’s what. Professional theatre in the Cotswolds, what’s not to love?
Anything else you’d like to add?
You think the comedy cow is empty from its milking? Come and see The Hound of the Baskervilles at the Barn Theatre, Cirencester and be sure.
The Hound of the Baskervilles runs 24 October to 24 November 2018 at The Barn, 5 Beeches Road, Cirencester GL7 1BN. Performances are Mondays to Saturdays at 7.30pm, with Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm. Tickets are priced £15-30. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!