Being a Sherlock Holmes fan I was intrigued to see that an outdoor production featuring some of his best-loved cases was being staged at the stunning Waterperry Gardens.
Pantaloons Theatre Company have adapted four of Conan Doyle’s favourite stories, including The Speckled Band and the sublime The Hound of the Baskervilles, into a two-hour production of ingenuity, verve and wit celebrating the great detective’s adventures in a very unconventional way.
The Pantaloons are famed for their madcap interpretations incorporating genius physical comedy, music interludes, and hilarious contemporary references. But despite their cheekiness this remains a genuine homage to the stories, in large part because of the excellent script and direction from Mark Hayward.
The cast of four also execute sterling work, with much élan.
The two great central performances by Louis Labovitch and Edward Ferrow as Sherlock and Dr Watson, are ably supported by Isaac Leafe and Elliot Quinn (in a variety of strange wigs, beards and hats) as a myriad of other Holmesian characters.
The company also has the best audience participation skills I have ever witnessed: playing out bits of scenes among the rows of picnickers, comically pretending to help themselves to the drinks etc, making us part of the show. It was such a delight to see the children in the audience look so involved.
In the interval there was time to wander and admire the garden and its stunning views and discover how the bijou set worked. Waterperry Gardens is perfect for family events, such as the children’s summer orienteering course. On Sunday it hosts an afternoon of ‘Military Colour’ — a fundraiser for ABF. the soldiers’ charity, featuring music and dance with the Scots Guards Pipes and Drums, Abingdon Military Wives Choir and Caledonian Achushla Dance.