07th May, 1 Comment
By John Watson
The Hound of the Baskervilles is most people’s favourite Holmes adventure and it has been the subject of many radio adaptations and over half a dozen films. For many it was their first encounter with Holmes, as played by Basil Rathbone in the version bearing the full title “Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles”. I will gloss over for the moment how my literary agent seems to take most of the credit!
I envy those who have never heard the story before whose suspicions of everyone but the real villain are aroused by the events as they unfold in my narrative.
Laurence Owen has been working on this new version for four months and he describes it as a labour of love. He says that his parents introduced him to my accounts when he was very young and he has been hooked ever since. It has been something of a life ambition to have a stab at an adaptation himself. He has assembled his cast (including himself), recorded and edited the performance, adding sound effects (some subtle, some quite startling) and composed and added a musical score. He calls it a “radio film” and he feels that The Hound lends itself particularly well to sound or radio adaptations. Many filmed versions of The Hound have been criticised because of the feeble nature of the actual hound (in one example leading a reviewer to refer to the poor creature as “The dog that did nothing in the night-time”). Owen prefers to create an image in the listener’s imagination using only sound.
In choosing The Hound, he mentions that he is also keen on The Creeping Man, The Speckled Band and in particular The Devil’s Foot, indicating a preference with the gothic, although he thinks that if The Hound is well-received, he might consider The Blue Carbuncle (hardly a gothic story!) as it would give him lots of interesting sound effects to simulate – markets, geese, drunken rows etc. – as well as a nice Christmas-themed soundtrack to compose.
The result of all his labours with The Hound is a very atmospheric production, true to my original story in almost all respects, that is best listened to, as Owen suggests, in complete darkness, though if you’re holding the glass of brandy as he also suggests, you may lose its entire contents!
I noticed two characters were missing from the plot – I will leave you to work out who they are. One was excluded because of time constraints (see later) – the other to enhance the drama in one of the key scenes near the end.
The recording is available as a stereo podcast and will also be available in 5.1 surround sound that will take “listeners on a chilling and unforgettable sonic journey” and this is where the time constraints mentioned earlier become important.
Owen will eventually play the piece in a theatrical setting, in complete darkness, in surround sound. For this reason its length needs to be reasonably short, since the piece demands quite a lot of attention from its audience.
This surround sound version will be presented as a cinema or theatre style performance, for people to enjoy as a group. The idea is that they come along to a designated venue, as they would with a movie or a play, and experience a radio-style piece together in total darkness. This is very rarely done, and it is hoped that it will encourage the audience’s imaginations to really come into their own. This version of the piece is still in development, and we await further information about these performances. The current plan is to present them in Fringe theatre style environments, and as such will be ticketed events. Look out for The Hound of the Baskervilles at next year’s Brighton and Edinburgh festivals.
The Hound of the Baskervilles is available from Corporate Records, which provides a new way for performers (mainly musicians) to share, sell and promote their work. Performers can sell single tracks or group them into multiple albums, set minimum prices or use a pay-what-you-like system, embed their tracks in blogs and share static download links on Twitter and Facebook.
The album version of The Hound of the Baskervilles is now available.
A promotional video can also be found on You Tube at The Hound is Released!