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A horror mystery unfolds on the Moors

Sherlock Holmes mystery at Centerstage

Left to right: Jacob Tice, Eloisa Cardona, Tom Livingston. Photo credit: Michelle Smith-Lewis

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Director Trista Duval and her cast and crew went all out to present a harrowing version of The Hound of the Baskervilles at Centerstage, adapted by Seattle playwrights David Pichette and R. Hamilton Wright, with an eye toward being true to Sir Conan Doyle's original story.

Audience are transformed to England in the 1880s first of all by the elaborate set designed by Jyles Rodgers, costumes by Jocelyne Fowler (most notably the men's coats and hats and Beryl Stapleton's beautiful dresses), and lighting and sounds by, respectively, Michelle Mann and Xandria Easterday Callahan.

The beautiful set consists of a background with boulders and tattered hanging cloth that does not attempt to look like the Moors but rather like draped cobwebs which creates a Halloween mood, and moveable set pieces to represent Sherlock Holmes' London apartment and the drawing room of Baskerville Hall, with beautiful iridescent green curtains and many period portraits.

As good theater always is, this production of The Hound is a group effort. One drawback in this production is that the many scene changes become a distraction that takes the audience out of the feeling of being in another place and time. Plays with many scene changes can be the bane and challenge of community theaters with limited budgets, but given what they have to work with, this company handles the changes as well as any.

Dr. James Mortimer (Timothy Duval) asks Holmes (Tom Livingston) to investigate the death of his friend Sir Charles Baskerville (Craig Rock) who was found dead in the Moors near Baskerville Hall in Devon, England. Holmes is intrigued with the case because there are hints that Baskerville might have been killed by the legendary giant hound that lives in the Moors. But rather than going to Baskerville Hall himself, Holmes sends his companion, Dr. Watson (Jacob Tice), to investigate.

Livingston's performance as Holmes is a bit overly affected in the early scenes, but then in later scenes his acting is more realistic.

Tice, known for his outstanding roles in Tacoma Little Theatre's national award-winning The Pillowman, and A Few Good Men at Lakewood Playhouse, is again outstanding as Watson, a role he plays with great subtlety and a bit of sly humor.

Eloisa Cardona is captivating in the duel roles as Mrs. Hudson and Mrs. Barrymore, Robin Mae Becar is likeable and engaging as the beautiful young Beryl Stapleton and then changes convincingly in ways that can't be explained without spoiling the story.

Also turning in enjoyable performances are Dale Bowers as Mr. Frankland and Duval as Dr. Mortimer.

This is a show that is ideal for the Halloween season. It is spooky and witty, and for those who do not already know the convoluted plot, it is an intriguing whodunnit.

THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, 7:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday; 2 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, through Oct. 27, Centerstage at Knutzen Family Theatre, 3200 SW Dash Point Rd., Federal Way, $30, adults; $26, seniors, military; $15, youth (18-23); $12, 17 and younger, 253.661.1444,

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