Fortune Theatre, Dunedin

08/08/2015 - 05/09/2015


08/09/2015 - 08/09/2015

Memorial Hall, 36 Melmore Terrace, Cromwell

10/09/2015 - 10/09/2015

Lake Wanaka Centre, Wanaka

11/09/2015 - 11/09/2015

Production Details

Fortune Theatre proudly presents The Hound of the Baskervilles, a new farce where NOTHING is elementary. This zany, slapstick spoof follows three members of a theatre troupe haplessly trying to put on their version of this well-known classic against all odds. Terror and uproarious mayhem ensue when Sherlock Holmes (Nick Dunbar) and his trusty sidekick Watson (Simon Leary) attempt to unravel the ancient curse of the Baskerville family (Patrick Davies) before the Hound claims its next victim.

Wonderfully barking spoof – The Daily Telegraph 

“If you loved The 39 Steps, a hilarious send-up of all the Hitchcock classics, then you’ll love this treatment of this beloved Sherlock Holmes mystery,” says Artistic Director Lara Macgregor. “And if you didn’t think it was crazy enough already, in our production we are multiplying roles on-stage and off.  Patrick Davies will be directing and acting in the production. No easy task.” 

“Gut-bustingly hilarious” – The Times

Director Patrick Davies says, “A boisterous mad-cap evening of ridiculous fun – and I thought The 39 Steps was a workout! Onstage with two highly talented comics who are also great mates is such a delight, we’re having a ball rehearsing the show and we can’t wait to bring it to our audiences. They’d better buckle in tight – it’s going to be a bumpy ride! 

The male heirs of the Baskerville family are being knocked off one-by-one-and a very large canine is the leading suspect. With only one heir to the Baskerville fortune left, Sir Henry Baskerville, Holmes and Watson may have met their match. 

Featuring: Patrick Davies, Nick Dunbar and Simon Leary 

Fortune Theatre, 231 Stuart Street, Dunedin
8 August – 5 September
Tuesday, 6.00pm; Wednesday – Saturday, 7.30pm;
Sunday, 4.00pm (no show Monday)
Tickets:  Gala (first 5 shows) $34, Adults $42,
Senior Citizens $34, Members $32,
Tertiary Students $20, High School Students $15,
Group discount (10+) $34

Bookings:  Fortune Theatre, 231 Stuart Street, Dunedin
Box Office 03 477 8323 or visit 

Approx:  1 hr 55 mins, including interval  

8-19 September on tour around Otago and Southland.

Tuesday, 8 September, Ranfurly Town Hall
Book at i-Site Ranfurly, 2 Charlemont St, 03 262 7999

Wednesday, 9 September, Dunstan High School, Alexandra
Book at i-Site Alexandra, 21 Centennial Ave, 03 262 7999

Thursday 10 September, Cromwell Memorial Hall
Book at i-Site Cromwell, 2 The Mall, 03 262 7999

Friday 11 September, Lake Wanaka Centre
Book at i-Site Wanaka, 103 Ardmore St, 03 443 1233

Saturday 12 September, Queenstown Memorial Hall 
Book at i-Site Queenstown, 22 Shotover St, 03 442 4100 or online at Eventfinder

Tuesday 15 September, Fiordland Event Centre, Te Anau 
Book at Fab & Fitness, 66 Town Centre, 03 249 7309

Thursday 17 September, SIT Centrestage, Invercargill 
Book at SIT Centrestage, 33 Don St, Invercargill or online at Ticket Direct 

Friday 18 September, West Otago Community Centre, Tapanui 
Book at Ideal Print, 39 Northumberland, 03 204 8688 or online at iTicket

Saturday 19 September, Balclutha Memorial Hall 
Book at Johnstone Electrical, 60 Clyde St, 03 418 0427 or online at iTicket 

Patrick Davies, Nick Dunbar and Simon Leary

Writer:  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Adapted by Steven Canny and John Nicholson.  
Director:  Patrick Davies
Set Designer:  Peter King 
Set Builder:  Richard Clark 
Lighting Designer:  Stephen Kilroy
Sound Designer:  Matthew Morgan 
Costume Designer:  Maryanne Wright-Smyth 
Stage Manager:  George Wallace 
Properties:  Monique Webster

Theatre ,

1 hr 55 mins incl. interval

World-class hilarity

Review by Pip Harker 16th Sep 2015

The most famous of the Sherlock Holmes stories is brought to the stage in this madcap comedy spoof from the Fortune Theatre and adapted for stage by English writer/actors Steven Canny and John Nicholson.  Hold on for your life as it’s a crazy ride! 

Opening with a creepy murder scene the actors then come out to announce a problem: the rest of the cast aren’t here and despite a curse from a ghost the show must go on.  It’s a cunning ploy as the actors talking directly to us means we immediately fall for them and their predicament (phoney though it is).  It also sets up some great comic moments of rushing between characters, eye-rolling and teasing between the three. 

So, off we go at break-neck speed into Victorian England, with the three actors playing all the characters, moving props around for scene changes and not missing a beat for the entire play.  A right hoot it is too: mad, mad, mad.  One is left astounded at the energy, talent and enthusiasm on stage, not to mention the astonishing physical comedy.

The twinkly-eyed Patrick Davies plays Sir Henry Baskerville most of the time but pulls off five other characters.  He has also directed this wonderful production – how he pulled it off is anyone’s guess.  He pulls it off and then some. 

Seasoned actor Nick Dunbar moves seamlessly between seven diverse characters – Holmes included – and, oh joy, a woman – always great for a giggle.  The physicality of this actor is astonishing and I get to wondering how good his dance-moves must be.  He even does the splits.   Let’s face it, why wouldn’t the director want to put that in? Twice. 

The dim Dr Watson is played by Simon Leary, a thoroughly charming young actor with great comic timing and undoubtedly he is one-to-watch.  My programme tells me he has won “Most Promising Male Newcomer” at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards. 

At the beginning of the second half, Nick Dunbar comes back in a rage. Apparently a tweet about the play has not been effusive enough and they are going to do the first half again!  You could almost hear the collective groan from the audience but this is a super high-speed first half repeat – five or ten minutes – that milks the hilarity for all it’s worth.

My ten year-old female companion has this to say about the play: “It was funny, really funny. And wasn’t it hilarious when they were in the steam-room – with their clothes on??!!” The old ‘ happiness echo-gag’ seems to have stuck with her. Happiness….penis….penis….  Thankfully most of the increasingly naughty innuendo throughout has gone over her head. 

In short this production is world-class. I haven’t laughed so much in a long time and I’m not alone.  The clever set (Peter King/Richard Clark), lush costuming (Maryanne Wright-Smyth) and moody lighting (Stephen Kilroy) give these three talented lads just what they need to tell this hilarious tale.  We all needed a cup of tea and a lie-down afterwards.  Bravo.


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Cheerful, high-spirited absurdity

Review by Terry MacTavish 10th Aug 2015

First, a reassurance (just as the programme reassures patrons that only a few hounds were harmed): despite the obvious temptation there will be no dog puns in this review.

Extraordinary, isn’t it, the continued fascination exerted over our imaginations by Conan Doyle’s great fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes. There have been literally hundreds of plays and movies based both on Holmes’ cases and the man himself, most recently Ian McKellan’s sober portrait of his declining years. This deliciously irreverent spoof concocted by a talented pair of English actor-writers, can therefore trade on our prior knowledge of the sleuth of Baker Street, and indeed of this particular case.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is probably the most popular of all the tales, involving as it does, the terrifying spectre of a gigantic hell hound, straight from the dark legend of a noble family, hunting down its victims across a dangerous moor.  “That which is clearly known has less terror than that which is hinted at and guessed”, so what could be more fearful than the supernatural?   The Fortune’s sound and lighting team (designers Matthew Morgan and Stephen Kilroy, operator Anna Vandenbosch) have exploited this universal dread in a marvellously spine-chilling opening, with ferocious snarls and howls of a ghostly hound emanating from ominous shadows as we witness the horrifying death of Sir Charles Baskerville.

From here the high melodrama descends abruptly to the deliberately prosaic, as three actors briskly demolish the fourth wall to confide their dilemma to the traumatised audience. The rest of the cast (of amazing diversity, we’re told) have failed to show up, so after a hurried colloquy, of which we catch snatches like ‘opportunity of a lifetime’ and ‘executive decision’, the trio determine the show must go on: they will play all the parts themselves. 

This cunning conceit may not be original (I recall Michael Green’s opera where the cast must sing with only the benefit of Conductor and Lady Triangle) but it works a treat.  Not only do the actors have the opportunity to show their versatility by undertaking all 17 roles, creating massive hilarity in the audience as they duck and dive between costumes, wigs and accents, but in the play outside the play, they establish and build on a very funny, usually competitive relationship. 

The dynamic is perfect, and the chief delight of this engaging show is that the actors clearly enjoy the mad romp as much as the audience does. One of the actors is director Patrick Davies himself, which means he can (and does) pull rank, but the others show plenty of spirit and he doesn’t get away with much.  Davies is an outstanding director with a vast amount of experience, but it is always a test to direct and perform in the same play.  Multiple role-playing is a speciality of his, however, as was evident in his direction of award-winning production Peninsula and his performance in 39 Steps, so it is really no surprise thatDavies rises superbly to the challenge.

His chief role is Sir Henry Baskerville, the heir of Sir Charles and therefore the next threatened by the ancient curse of the Baskervilles. His scenes with Holmes and Dr Watson initiate the plotline, but also offer opportunities for some terrific farce, like the ludicrous visit to the steam baths.

All three actors are miraculously deft as they dart about the stage, contorting their bodies into incredible positions for our viewing pleasure. Watch for the great crossing the moor scene, one actor wielding a crutch!  The high point though, has to be the brilliantly contrived opening to the second half, when, enraged by a disparaging tweet ‘posted during interval’, Nick Dunbar insists on rerunning the whole first half at breakneck speed. It takes about eight minutes, and is an absolute tour-de-force.

It is Dunbar – like Davies a versatile and indeed flexible actor, with too many credits to mention (except for the never-to-be-forgotten Dog in Peninsula!) – who tackles the role of Holmes. He is certainly well-cast, with finely sculptured profile and haunting eyes, not unlike Jeremy Brett, actually. There’s not much chance to show the darker side of Holmes but Dunbar endows Holmes with an imposing austerity, and his superior attitude to poor Watson, who invariably fails to penetrate his disguise or anticipate his deductions, is beautifully judged, and always amusing. Dunbar also revels in playing, amazingly, both halves of two couples: bearded butler Barrymore and his lachrymose wife, as well as sinister Stapleton and his ‘sister’ the ravishing Cecille. 

Simon Leary, once Chapman Tripp’s Most Promising Newcomer, is now a seasoned professional and his performance, like those of his fellow actors, is skilful and perfectly assured. He is especially charming as an often bewildered Dr Watson, the audience rocking with laughter at his lively bout of fisticuffs, or the running gag of his unsuccessful pursuit of glasses of whisky and plates of sausages. All three performers are admirably physically fit and share an easy rapport that is crucial to this genre of theatre. 

The beauty of the ‘theatrical emergency’ conceit is that the players can get away with every sort of gaffe, whether carefully rehearsed or unintentional. The audience loves the odd ‘ow!’ as an actor rushes into place during the black-out for a swift scene-change, and the cast members are skilled improvisers, well able to cover for any late entrances as characters transform in the wings, only to rush on with Velcro still flapping or the wrong wig.

The costumes by Maryanne Wright-Smyth are ingeniously devised to look sumptuous but be easily whipped on and off, from the luscious red smoking jacket Holmes wears to the elaborate, fashionable dress and picture hat of Cecille. I am glad we are given a rare chance to applaud the stage management team, who must be exhausted.  Here’s hoping dressers George Wallace and Jordan Dickson maintain their sanity throughout the run.

The Fortune, doubtless aware it is onto a winner, has made this a longer season than usual, and the production will then set off on tour round Otago and Southland. With this in mind, Peter King has designed a set which, while creating the right ambience and appearing substantial, is presumably easily portable. Baker St, for instance, is simply a screen, a high-backed chair, and a chest which proves to have a remarkable ability to transform into a sauna, a railway carriage, a fireplace, or the murky quagmires of the moor. The various comical stage properties, from maltreated corpses to the tempting sausages, created by Monique Webster, add to the fun. 

The timing of all this cheerful, high-spirited absurdity is very welcome. We have just been seared by the utterly stunning Punk Rock, next up in the Fortune’s programme is a play dealing with the scars of war in the Middle East, and it is snowing tonight. The theatre owes us an uncomplicated belly-laugh.

“It’s absolutely hilarious,” school students at the preview asserted, but what will my guest, an experienced actor recently returned from checking out London’s theatre scene, think of it? Apparently local theatre measures up. She is positively glowing: “I enjoyed every single minute of it!”

Aspiring young actors spotted in the audience are also waxing lyrical. Clearly, while this is an easy play for anyone to enjoy, the craft of the performers lifts it into the realm of a masterclass in truly excellent physical comedy. In fact, I would suggest that it would be a simple step for this talented crew to cut out the middle men next time (clever as Nicholson and Canny are), and adapt a story themselves. They are surely equal to it.

In the meantime, Otago and Southland are jolly fortunate that a touring production of this standard is venturing out to spread uncomplicated joy in the depths of winter.


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