In the heart of Dartmoor, tales of murder, mystery and mythical creatures has haunted the moors for decades. Thanks for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, my family home is full of these attributes and fame, however it has been little explored on site in the form of theatre.
With the moors in the distance and the back drop of the Moorland House Hotel, Yelverton, I took my Sherlock fanatic parents to witness this infamous fictional tale.
Open air theatre I find is always quite a difficult type of theatre. You have very little prop and staging to use as touring with this is very difficult as well as little access to the lighting, sounds and special effects we experience in indoor performances. Chapterhouse- well known for their many outdoor travelling theatre productions luckily has this under control and still lead us to enjoy the changing scenery and premises with the use of song and professionally conducted actors.
Sherlock Holmes as a character I find is very difficult and quite an achievement to be able to play. I am never entirely sure who he is meant to be. Adaptations from the older days show him to be very serious and controlling while recent performances make him a little more eccentric than usual and almost comical. Chapterhouse played upon both of these, at times Holmes being almost a buffoon in his performance to other times a leader and quite demanding. Whether this is Sherlock or not is entirely up to interpretation- myself is still on the fence of who I think he should be.
To support this take on the story to stage , the use of a man dressed in a pantomime dog’s costume and play upon the writing was used for comedy and the audience really seemed to enjoy this. Whether this is appropriate for such a genre of writing I am unsure but without access to means that in house theatres could produce, maybe this comical view is a good way to address that.
Overall I did enjoy this production. It certainly felt that while we were viewing a story on a cold Moor (while in reality is the sunny Summer)that we were involved in the story, and with the real Moor nearby, who knows what could be lurking on our exit!