DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE: Edgar, Theatre Royal Nottingham till 24 March

Nottingham/Touring.

DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE: David Edgar.
Theatre Royal: Tkts 0115 989 5555 www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk.
3***

Runs: 2h 20m: one interval: till 15th October.
Performance times: 7.30pm, (Matinees 2.00pm Weds and 2.30pm Sat).
Review: Alan Geary: 20th March 2018.

Not without its problems. But watchable.
Dreadful doings in gaslight London perpetrated by the evil half of a man with two personalities. Even if they haven’t read the original novel, most people are familiar with the basic plot of Jekyll and Hyde.

David Edgar’s adaptation opens out Stevenson’s all-male story with some female characters; a good idea because it brings in an element of ordinary balanced domesticity by way of contrast, as well as some strong extra back story. (The only downside here is a couple of annoying children played by adults; often a problem unless done well).

The addition of females also allows us to appreciate the tragedy of domestic drudge, Annie (Grace Hogg-Robinson), thrown out of house and employment for falling pregnant. Hogg-Robinson makes her sympathetic; but funny as well – perhaps to some extent unintentionally so, what with her over-enthusiastic working-class/bucolic dialect.

Less successfully, director Kate Saxon adds another layer, a between-scenes female singer. Songs and singer (Rosie Abraham) are splendid but they detract from the dramatic impact of the play, and confuse the issue.

Another gripe – this time it’s down to Edgar – is that the pompous Victorian dialogue of the men, especially Poole (Sam Cox), sits awkwardly in a stage play. A lot of it is doubtless borrowed direct from the printed page, where it’s entirely at home,

There are three star turns, four if you count the brilliant set and lighting designs, which allow seamless change from murky street, to Jekyll’s backroom laboratory, to stuffy London drawing room, to Katherine’s airy drawing room in the country.

Rather than using two actors, both Jekyll and Hyde and all points in between are played convincingly by Phil Daniels in educated Glaswegian. As Hyde he’s not a monstrous caricature but a coarse and violent brute, the sort that exists in real life. It matters not at all that anyone seeing Hyde would realise immediately that his was also the body of Jekyll.

Robin Kingsland (often seen down the road at Nottingham Playhouse) is a finely controlled and dignified Utterson. And Polly Frame is excellent as Jekyll’s sister Katherine, sane, gentle and kind.

Lucie/Maid/Singer: Rosie Abraham.
Poole: Sam Cox.
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: Phil Daniels.
Katherine: Polly Frame.
Charles: Anyebe Godwin.
Annie: Grace Hogg-Richardson.
Dr Lanyon/Carew: Ben Jones.
Utterson: Robin Kingsland.
Enfield/Parson: Matthew Romain.

Director: Kate Saxon.
Set and Costume Designer: Simon Higlett.
Lighting Designer: Mark Jonathan.
Sound Designer and Composer: Richard Hammarton.

2018-03-22 10:45:28

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