The phrase "Elementary, my dear Watson" is never actually said in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's writings on the world's greatest detective Sherlock Holmes, but its something we all anxiously await every time we see one of the plays.
But now, thanks to YouthStage at The Children's Theatre, I have a new favorite Holmes quote: "This is a dark and dangerous business, Watson."
And it's certainly true in The Hound of the Baskervilles.
The kids' chiller came just in time for Halloween and follows the detective in an effort to protect Sir Henry, the heir to the Baskerville estate, from an old family curse, a phantom beast or even a cerebral killer.
The play, performed by kids 17 and younger, is filled with villain chase scenes, total suspense and a bit of horror. And even though the plot is complex and the dialogue is heavy, most kids will love it.
I sat right next to a group of them on the opening night, Oct. 22, since my plus one has a broken foot and the easiest place for us to sit was the kid's bench. Every time the stage went dark and we heard the hound's howl, the little girl sitting next to me was shocked with excitement, and her hands were glued to her cheeks. But if your kid is easily spooked, this might not be your play. It seemed like most of the ones I saw were laughing by the end though, and the theatre says it's for ages six and up.
The YouthStage cast members show a lot of passion in their roles and are on the way to being great actors. They are learning and you can't expect perfection, but the kids actually rival several adult acting companies I've seen lately.
I love how this theatre always does so much with so little. Instead of focusing on expensive props and intricate sets, The Children's Theatre brings the cast and audiences' imaginations into the show. Watson and Holmes chase a convict across an empty stage, which become woods filled with snapping twigs and wild animals. Laura Lyons peers across the stage through an imaginary upstairs window to make sure the detective and his partner have left her property. The crowd believes every bit.
And my favorite part, the hound! Seeing the lights dim and the snarling beast chase townspeople around the stage/moor might be worth the $8 to see the show on its own. Another highlight is the wardrobe, which really helped set the scene in 19th century England.
The first and second nights of the play sold out, and it might happen again on Halloween weekend. The play is about two hours with a short intermission. It runs through Oct. 30.
After Holmes, the MainStage actors are back with The Frog Prince starting Nov. 5, and the YouthStage actors return for Little Women on March 11.