The game is afoot

Based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel, Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles chronicles a case in which the Great Detective and his colleague, Dr. Watson, are hired by a country doctor to discover the truth behind a mysterious family curse.

The charming adaptation by Harvey Mackie, a beloved figure in the Oklahoma City theater community who died last year, has problems that stem from having everything occur in one location and too much telling — and not enough showing — when it comes to moving the story forward.

Unlike the troubled Sherlocks of modern television and film, Don Taylor’s Holmes is a seemingly dysfunction-free genius who delights in his work and gets along with others. While not the most compelling portrayal, Taylor is charming and likable as a G-rated Holmes, and his presence is sorely missed when he disappears for a large section of the play.

David Burkhart is compelling as Dr. Mortimer. In a work full of burdensome exposition, he deserves praise for keeping his lengthy telling of the Baskerville legend engaging.

Amandanell Bold makes a strong impression as a down-on-her-luck woman with connections to several key players. While barely manifesting a British accent, Tad Thurston exhibits a great lyrical quality as he plays the multiple layers of the Baskervilles’ neighbor, John Stapleton, while Lana Henson does a fine job bringing out the repressed anxiety and eventual desperation of his sister.

Richard Howell’s sets and Keith Burgess’ props are among the most lovely seen on the Jewel Box stage in recent memory. Obvious thought went into the color choices and decor, and the results are effective and classy.

Equally excellent is the lighting design by Erin Langer. In her first Jewel Box production, she brings a strong sense of atmosphere, aided by some well-timed haze and Abi Hann’s clever, if repetitive, sound design. Mimi Lynch’s costumes fall short, thanks to a generic wardrobe.

Accents are often the bane of community theater. In Hound, it feels like some of the cast, many of whom have done good work in other shows, were crippled their assumed English dialects, resulting in stilted performances.

With so many talented people among the cast and crew, the real mystery of director Linda McDonald’s Hound is why it’s not better.

Eric Webb

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