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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Published by: Kirstie Niland on 17th Apr 2018 | View all blogs by Kirstie Niland

Blackpool Grand Theatre

(Now showing at Bradford Alhambra until Saturday 21st April, on UK tour until May 19th)

I caught this classic gothic production at the end of its run in Blackpool, eager to see how the horror of Dr Jekyll’s nightly transformation into the evil Mr Hyde would stand up on stage.

I was not disappointed, for actor Phil Daniels’ portrayal of the two characters forming the dangerously split personality was as close to resembling a physical metamorphosis as you could get in the absence of special effects or time-consuming costume changes.

The Victorian, split level set provided a balcony for singer Rosie Abraham to permeate the proceedings with some eerie melodies. Beneath her, a periodic reversal of the set highlighted which of the physician's personalities we were about to encounter, as Daniels entered or exited his lounge or laboratory respectively. The darkness was lifted by flickering candles, but these were often dimmed, drawing us forward to see better, creating tension. 

Daniels’ use of a Scottish accent paid homage to the writer, Edinburgh’s own Robert Louis Stevenson, but this and the show have generated mixed reviews, particularly during a recent run in the author's home city. However I found his accent, along with the West Country twang of his lively maid Annie (Grace Hogg-Robinson) added a punch, and a rhythmical juxtaposition of harshness and light amidst an otherwise relentlessly terrifying plot. Their relationship was strangely more fascinating than Jekyll’s experiments with a potion that released a savage alter-ego. It culminated in an abused Annie’s psychoanalysis of the finally broken and suicidal man, whose childhood issues bred a monster ready to be unleashed as the evil Hyde.

Overall this production, by Touring Consortium Theatre Company, features a strong and talented cast which affords extra guts via more developed female characters. Whilst it isn't as scary as big budget productions, it does still inject the necessary chills – including a gut-wrenching, bone-crunching assault which successfully illustrates Jekyll’s surrender to Hyde's murderous urges.

UK tour dates are here.

The company’s next production is an exciting new adaptation of Dracula, again by David Edgar and directed by Kate Saxton, in association with Everyman Theatre Cheltenham. For this European Premiere, Bram Stoker’s book has been re-imagined in all its spine-chilling glory by a world-class creative team from London’s West End and Broadway.

Age Guidance; 16+

Everyman Theatre Cheltenham

Fri 28 September – Sat 6 October 2018

Box Office: 01242 572573

Photograph courtesy of Touring Consortium Theatre Company

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