A lighter side of Sherlock Holmes in ‘Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville’

Mark Garvin

If you think the ever-popular Sherlock Holmes is all business, tracking down ghostly hounds in the eerie night, Tony-winning playwright Ken Ludwig’s version will show you a whole other side.

“It’s a comedy and thriller,” says Ron Menzel, currently playing the lead in the Philadelphia Theatre Company production of “Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery.”

“It’s kind of managed chaos, because the play proceeds at such a fast pace,” Menzel says. “There are a lot of trap doors, mist on the moor, chases, fights. It’s like being on a playground.”

For Menzel, it’s a chance to take on a role he’s been eyeing for a while. “Sherlock Holmes has fascinated me from the time I was a young boy,” he says. “The chance to play someone who is obviously much smarter than I am and certainly a fascinating character is an actor’s dream.”

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Henry Clarke plays Holmes’ right hand man, John Watson, with just three other actors filling all the other roles in this madcap twist on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles.”

“The story focuses on Dr. Watson’s journey to a very mysterious and potentially haunted place — the manor of Baskerville,” says Menzel. “A supernatural hound is terrorizing the area and committing murders. Holmes and Watson have to figure out if this is indeed supernatural, or if there’s a person pulling the strings.”

Murder from the beyond might seem a bit intense for a comedy, but the idiosyncratic British detective has seen many different kinds of adaptations over the 130 years since Doyle first wrote about him.

“The character has staying power,” Menzel says of Holmes. “I think he will continue to fascinate. This idea of the world’s greatest detective and his very loyal, capable friend — it crosses cultural boundaries.”

The show is playing at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre through Dec. 27.Tickets are at PhiladelphiaTheatreCompany.org or 215-985-0420.

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