BBC Radio 7, 28-29 December 2009
David Johnston's version of Conan Doyle's classic tale was notable
for two things - the novel interpretation of Holmes and Watson, and its suggestion that the eponymous hound did not exist
at all, but represented a projection of Sir Henry Baskerville's (Matt Zimmerman's) fevered imagination.
In this production, Holmes (Roger Rees) came across as someone whose whole life focused
on solving crimes. During his (infrequent) periods of inactivty, he could not settle - moving around the room like a caged
animal, picking up the newspaper, idly reading it without taking anything in, and looking out of the window in the hope that
a client might come. It was Watson's (Crawford Logan's) responsibility to calm Holmes down; this he accomplished by encouraging
the detective to reflect on his past successes and how they contributed to his reputation.
When involved in the process of detection, Holmes became a different person altogether.
His mind focused almost totally on the case in hand, rendering him oblivious to anything or anyone around him. Watson remained
faithfully at his side, but his presence remained largely superfluous as Holmes assembled the pieces of evidence, and arrived
at a solution.
The great detective's superior mind was sorely tested in this Hound of the Baskervilles,
as director Johnston suggested that Sir Henry was suffering from delusions. The hound might have existed, but it might also
have been a projection of his mind; like Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight, he was gradually coming to his wits' end. Needless
to say all ended happily, with the criminals unmasked; but we nonetheless understood that Sir Henry was an exceptionally unstable
person, with little prospect of recovery. Perhaps he might need Holmes' services in the future.