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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Published by: Trevor Gent on 5th Apr 2018 | View all blogs by Trevor Gent

Arriving at the theatre to see lots of empty seats for the first performance of this horror thriller by Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at the Swan theatre, High Wycombe was a shame. This was perhaps due to the delay of one day to start the week run due to technical issues, but hopefully a few more people will come to see this one. This production is from the Rose Theatre Kingston in cooperation with the Touring Consortium Theatre Company. Stage play adapted by David Edgar and produced by Kate Saxon.

It was a signed performance and although I did not need it, but should you have needed this facility I was pleased to see that the subtitles kept up with the dialogue on stage, unlike watching TV with text which is usually playing catch up. There were also a lot of younger people in the audience as it seems that this is in the curriculum for GCSE, but as the action on stage unfolded I found myself thinking I hoped they had more of a clue as to what was going on than me.

Being penned by a Scot it was perhaps inevitable that some of the main actors in this play portrayed their role using a Scottish accent, some better than others though.

I liked the simple set and staging albeit somewhat dark in a lot of places for effect should the scene require a more sinister feel or mood. It was clever how the space was used to scene change almost immediately just by a backdrop change, swing of a side wing or bringing on a work bench.

Originally written in 1886 it is a Gothic novel where Dr Jekyll transforms into Mr Hyde, a man without a conscience, through the use of potions. Eventually the transformations get out of control, and his friends become aware of his situation. Drug abuse of the Victorian era one could say and the consequences that it brings. A struggle between two personalities, one good and one bad, where one eventually takes over.

There is a lot of dialogue and at times it is quite difficult to follow, and hear at times, especially in the first half but try and stick with it. I found it much easier in the second half.

Phil Daniels takes the main role as Dr Jekyll, he is a fifty year old Doctor, fascinated by the workings of the human brain and intrigued by notes he has discovered in a book left by his late father, outlining a way by which a man may separate the two opposing elements of his personality. Jekyll is a highly intelligent man who enjoys his own company, and, despite his wealth, is careful and lives simply. As Hyde, he is younger, smaller and dangerous. Hyde has no inhibitions, and engages in violent, depraved acts, not caring if he is observed. In the play, he is a murderer and rapist. Hyde is released, and Jekyll is restored, with the consumption of specific and mysterious potions.

On the whole he does quite a good job as it is quite a daunting challenge to change from one character into another, right before your very eyes so to speak.

There is quite a large cast and they all play their parts well. I especially enjoyed Annie the parlour maid who originally works for Katherine (Dr Jekyll’s sister) However, she leaves Katherine’s employ after her father is violent towards her, and seeks refuge with Dr Jekyll, who takes her in and gives her a position in his household, despite the disapproval of his valet, Poole. Annie is a perceptive young woman, who nevertheless falls foul of the devilish Mr Hyde. She is dismissed by Jekyll when he realises she is pregnant.

The chilly temperature in the theatre certainly helped to keep you alert and added to the tension on stage. I always enjoy an evening spent in any theatre and it you want to catch this production at the Swan it continues there until Saturday 7th April and after that at the following venues.

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
Tues 10 – Sat 14 April 2018

Box Office
0131 529 6000

Alhambra Theatre, Bradford
Tues 17 – Saturday 21 April 2018
Box Office
01274 432000

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre
Tues 1 – Saturday 5 May 2018
Box Office
01902 429 212

Cambridge Arts Theatre
Tues 8 – Sat 12 May 2018

Box Office
01223 503 333

Darlington Hippodrome
Tues 15 – Saturday 19 May 2018

Box Office
01325 405 405

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