THE MAN INSIDE
book and lyrics by Tony Rees and Gary Young additional book material by Dave Willetts music by Tony Rees.
Landor Theatre 70 Landor Road SW9 9HP To 29 March 2014.
Tue–Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 3pm.
Runs 1hr 20min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7737 7276.
Review: William Russell 14 March.
Fine performances, ingenious set and glorious arpeggios.
As a vehicle for the talents of Dave Willetts this neatly contrived three-hander musical could hardly be bettered. It tells the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and the composer and lyricist have furnished Willis and his two leading ladies – Jekyll’s fiancée and a lady of the streets he befriends – with some rather nice songs to sing, notably the ballads ‘Never Leave Me’ and ‘I Dreamed of You’.
It also allows Willetts, without resorting to grotesque make-up Spencer Tracey style, to transform the benign Jekyll into the rakehell murderous Hyde, the man within, in full view of the audience.
There is a pianist, Matheson Bayley, who seems to find more notes than is humanly possible as he accompanies the cast – his arpeggios are dazzling – and one of the best sets that the Landor has come up with in ages, created by Martin Thomas.
The Landor is a celebrated venue with good acoustics and comfortable seats but you face a back wall to the acting space with a door in the middle which has, perforce, to be the main entrance for characters to use, no matter the show. Watching how successive designers cope with this problem is one of the pleasures of going regularly.
Thomas has solved it by concealing the door behind a suitably menacing Victorian street arcade, which turns into Jekyll’s laboratory at one point, the stage of a musical hall at another.
As Katherine, the fiancée, Alexandra Fisher sings sweetly, but a little more volume might help – the piano is very loud. The two women are miked so maybe director Robert McWhirr, who seemed to be manning the controls, wasn’t hitting quite the right buttons.
Jessie Lilley as Lizzie, the strumpet who longs to be saved, is gloriously saucy, belting her numbers across in style. Willetts, in good voice, commands the show most effectively and it has been well directed by McWhirr. The Landor has been having a good spring season so far.
Jekyll/Hyde: Dave Willetts.
Katherine: Alexandra Fisher.
Lizzie: Jessie Lilley.
Director: Robert McWhirr.
Designer/Costume: Martin Thomas.
Lighting: Richard Lambert.
Sound: Sarah Weltman.
Musical Director: Matheson Bayley.
Associate costume: Becky Evans.