Fans of Sherlock Holmes’ adventures remember the “demon hound from Hell,” aka “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” Fans of Tampa’s lively Jobsite Theater Company might call Jobsite’s current production “Zounds of the Baskervilles” because it is a slapstick take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s familiar detective story.
Giles Davies, a gifted performer with an elastic mouth, elastic legs and a talent for lightning costume changes, is the man snorting cocaine and sporting the deerstalker. In his multiple roles as detective, sweetheart and villain, Davies also wears at times an eye patch, a velvet dress and a formidable beard.
Shawn Paonessa, a longtime Jobsite actor, writer and director, is equally versatile as the hunted and haunted Sir Henry Baskerville as well as other characters. David Jenkins, another Jobsite stalwart, plays the dim bulb, Dr. Watson.
With such a talented cast and such a goofy script (adapted from the original story by Peepolykus and Steven Canny), you would expect two hours of fun and silliness.
As it happens, two hours is too much.
Add to the theatrical mix a convict named “Slashy,” a life-size puppet that subs as the victims for the gigantic hound and an ominous warning: “Never cross the moors in the dark hours.”
Think “Twilight Zone” crossed with zombie revenge.
Director Katrina Stevenson knows how to keep the momentum going. She expertly choreographed the many scene and costume changes as well as designing the costumes and props.
However, under her direction, the play hits all the same notes of “Animal House” silliness — repeatedly. What can be hilarious as a 20-minute comic sketch becomes tedious when extended for hours.
Except during a brief, wonderful sketch during which the characters reprise parts of the play at “fast forward” speed, the pace of this relentlessly comic show never varies.
A taste of real scariness or mystery would have made the funny parts a welcome release from any suspense.