Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is an ingenious mystery story, but Sherlock Holmes’ witty elucidations aside, it is largely humorless. Leave it to playwright Ken Ludwig, who previously penned the hilarious, Holmesian The Game’s Afoot or Holmes for the Holidays, to make “Hound …” a madcap romp. Under the direction of Josh Rhodes, Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery transports Doyle’s sweeping (and frequently grim) novel to the Old Globe’s little theater in the round. An indefatigable, charmingly costumed cast of five brings Ludwig’s farcical whodunit to life. Euan Morton is Holmes, Usman Ally is Watson, and Andrew Kober, Blake Segal and Liz Wisan do quick-change duty as multiple characters, sometimes before your very eyes. The versatile Segal and Wisan in particular would fit nicely in a Mel Brooks ensemble.
Silliness carries the day, and Doyle purists might harrumph. But there are enough spooky visual and sound effects to satisfy that contingent. For everyone else, the swiftly paced Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery with all its Ken Ludwig signature zaniness is a howl.
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat