THE STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL & MR HYDE
by Chris Bond adapted from Robert Louise Stevenson.
Queen’s Theatre Billet Lane RM11 1QT To 19 November 2011.
Tue-Sat 8pm Mat 5, 10 Nov 2.30pm.
Audio-described/BSL Signed 5 Nov 2.30pm.
Runs 1hr 50min One interval.
TICKETS: 01708 443333.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 31 October.
Fantasy with psychology given a full-coloured presentation.
They asked Chris Bond to write not one, but two Jekyll & Hyde’s – a three-hander to tour schools and a six-strong mainstage version. The two-in-one idea runs through the larger play – especially its first act, where Dr Henry Jekyll searches for a way to separate the good and bad inside himself.
So the mixture he finally makes to turn him into the body-wracked, fearsome-eyed Hyde is, like most powerful dramatic potions, a metaphor for a psychological process. Robert Louis Stevenson held back some way into his 1886 story that Jekyll and Hyde are the same person. David Edgar, in his 1991 dramatisation for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and later Birmingham Rep, tried it both ways, with two actors for the characters, and with one.
Bond keeps Hyde in reserve till the audience has seen the deformations within the mind of Jekyll. His bent posture as Hyde, as if evil’s still squeezing-out from the Jekyll identity, is prefigured when he peers through a keyhole at an attractive servant.
Later, dismissed by his travestied wife (a male actor with lines from Oscar Wilde), this servant drowns herself, leaving Jekyll soaked with guilt. So he goes on a voyage of destructive self-discovery which is also an entertainment-filled outing.
From the band introducing each half with period tunes and special effects, through the music hall chairman, who knows the good old ways, this is a night out on the town, designer Norman Coates making the Queen’s stage a Victorian pit for potboilers, with soldiers (regular and salvation armies) forming its band, a perspective of St Paul’s on the backdrop and scenes moving from Jekyll’s high Victorian basement, all brickwork and pipes, to a crowded pub.
There’s distortion already in the miniature door with its huge keyhole – worthy of Alice in Wonderland – where Jekyll spies on Ellen. And it’s amplified by Tom Jude’s twopence-coloured performance, one to give Victorian innocents nights of bad dreams.
The plentiful horrors and humour of Matt Devitt’s production provide just under two hours’ creepy enjoyment for the audience, while Bond’s script suggests something altogether more serious bubbling underneath.
Missionary/Ellen: Rachel Dawson.
Whore: Karen Fisher-Pollard.
Chairman: Simon Jessup.
Dr Henry Jekyll: Tom Jude.
Toff: Carol Sloman.
Soldier/Lanyon: Mark Stanford.
Director: Matt Devitt.
Designer: Norman Coates.
Lighting: Christopher Howcroft.
Musical Director: Carol Sloman.
Illusions: Callum Hughes.