Wednesday, May 27, 2015






By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer 

Spoofing Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson isn’t exactly a novel notion, although this Curio Theatre parody of The Hound of the Baskervilles by Steven Canny and John Nicholson gives “Elementary” a whole new meaning. 

If you stick it out until Act Two, things suddenly get funny. Steve Carpenter, who’s been playing Sherlock Holmes with an off-again on-again Russian accent, is outraged to learn that somebody has tweeted during intermission, complaining that his performance is really slowing the show down.  To fix things (and boy do they ever need fixing), he demands that they start the show over again, and proceed to run through the hour long Act One in about fifteen minutes. This is, at last, hilarious. 

But then they do Act Two, just as tediously and ploddingly as they did the first version of Act One. There is a lot of quick costume change, crooked wigs, standard scenery bits as a fireplace morphs into a bed, but none of it really amuses—except the fog, the fog was funny, but then they overplayed the fog to clean up the stage, and it wasn’t funny anymore.

CJ Keller, plays Watson and Harry Slack plays Baskerville; all three actors are charming and play multiple roles, slogging through the damp dialogue under Paul Kuhn’s leaden direction. Kudos to Beth Johnson who provides the sound effects, including some major howling.

The running gags walk, and no game is afoot. The whole production feels like a high school romp, as though the Arthur Conan Doyle story was an English class assignment, and a few kids got together to spoof it.  


Curio's Corner Stage (corner of 48th St. and Baltimore Ave. Through June 1.Tickets $15-20  Information:215-525-1350 or


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About this blog

Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of five books about modern and contemporary drama, and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). She was recently named by American Theatre magazine "one of the twelve most influential critics in America."

Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.

Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.

Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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