“Baskerville” At Insight Surrounds Us With A “Huge” Cast Of…Five?

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John J. O’Hagan as Sherlock Holmes and Kent Coffel as Dr. Watson in the Insight Theatre Company production of “Baskerville.” Photo: John Lamb

Ken Ludwig is at it again and Insight Theatre Company does a great job with his Sherlock Holmes take-off, “Baskerville: A Sherlock Homes Mystery.” Sherlock and Dr. Watson get to stay in character while the entire rest of the cast- three- have often split second costume and character changes as they dazzle us with the myriad of supporting people they play. It’s dizzying at times.

John J. O’Hagan is the perfect Sherlock with his long, tall features and crisp and determined delivery. He embodies the great detective and throws off the classic lines and erudite pronouncements with all of the aplomb of Basil Rathbone. Kent Coffel plays a dazzled and “harrumphy” Dr. Watson and even gets to score one or two pithy discoveries himself. They make quite a pair and show fearlessness as they pursue the meaning behind the Baskerville hound.

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Ed Reggi, Kent Coffel and Elliot Auch ride to Baskerville in the Insight production of Ken Ludwig’s “Baskerville.” Photo: John Lamb

It’s the mind boggling work of the other three cast members that keeps the show moving at breakneck speed, however. Ladies first as Gwen Wotawa shines as Mrs. Hudson and then morphs into an array of men and women that includes one of Holmes’ Baker Street Irregulars, the mysterious matron of the Baskerville manse and a host of others. Using a change of clothes and a variety of accents, she does yeoman work.

Elliot Auch tackles a sizable host of people as well including the original visitor to 221 Baker Street that piques the interest of Sherlock and Dr. Watson and sets them on their adventure. Rounding out the dynamic trio is Ed Reggi as multiple folk including a cleaning woman and- his main character- the braggart Texan who has dibs on the Baskerville estate.

Director Maggie Ryan- also Artistic Director of Insight- has kept the madhouse to a manageable level as exits as one character and entrances as another become fast and furious as the evening goes on. All the while, the stalwart detective and his trusty sidekick remain at the heart of things.

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Elliot Auch, Ed Reggi and Kent Coffel in “Baskerville” at Insight Theatre Company. Photo: John Lamb

Luke Shryock has designed an effective set that focuses on the parlor of Holmes with props, benches and so forth fleshing out the many other scenes. Connor Meers has provided nice lighting while Megan Harshaw’s costumes are spot on. Robin Weatherall’s sound design also comes into play and only enhances the goings on.

I’m still not in love with the .Zack space although this is probably the most cumbersome free production I’ve seen there. The sight lines aren’t always great with the two posts blocking some audience views and the entire space is just a bit too awkward and causes some actors to appear a bit perplexed at times.

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John J. O’Hagan, Gwen Wotawa, Elliot Auch and Kent Coffel in “Baskerville” at Insight Theatre Company. Photo: John Lamb

“Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery” is also not up to some of Ken Ludwig’s standards like “Lend Me A Tenor,” but the secret sauce of three actors playing multiple characters keeps the play rolling and it’s truly worth a night out at the theatre. Contact Insight Theatre Company at 314-556-1293 for tickets or more information. “Baskerville” plays through October 29th.

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