This chilling story is brought vividly to life, thanks to a combination of live music and a thrilling performance from Oliver Hume as Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde.
Based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, this new play by Eric Gracey takes a bit of time to warm up and really get to the heart of the story – but when it does it is enough to chill to the bone.
Set in and around a jazz club, the set has a very retro feel about it that helps to whisk the audience away as they learn of a man who is lurking in the shadows, carrying out numerous violent and evil actions. This man is Edward Hyde and he has a special gift of disappearing and reappearing at will – but how does the mild mannered Dr Henry Jekyll know him?
Although the opening scenes seem a bit long and vague in purpose, things do pick up as it begins to come to a head towards the end of the first act – filled with plenty of action and an intense and sinister performance from Oliver Hume as Edward Hyde certainly manages to grab the audience’s attention as he starts to become more violent in his actions.
The use of live music is very effective in adding to the intensity and relating to the story. In particular songs such as ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ and ‘Let’s Face the Music’ have lyrics that are chillingly appropriate for the story.
All of this is enhanced by the fantastic performance of Hume as Jekyll/Hyde, wearing a type of Phantom of the Opera mask to represent the two very different characters he performs as. His scenes with the suitably terrified Nicola Foxfield as Rose are disturbing and even difficult to watch in places and extremely believable.
There are also strong performances from Daniel Blacker as Mr John Uterson and Stuart Horobin, who plays a variety of roles throughout including Poole and Dr Lanyon – providing strong characterisations throughout. It is a shame that Nicola Foxfield as Rose and Sarah Gain aren’t given as much to do – except provide some strong vocals for the live music but character wise seem slightly under developed.
But that is part of the problem with the production overall, it just lacks that little of finesse in places that just ruins the effect and believability of Jekyll and Hyde. The empty glasses which could have been filled, the blank notes of money – minor details perhaps but do make a difference in fully convincing the audience of what they are seeing.
There is no questioning however, the solid direction of Mark Webster who has done a solid job of producing Gracey’s version of Jekyll and Hyde on stage – with plenty of moments that certainly don’t deserve to be spoilt and instead enjoyed on stage.
But with a bit more character development and a few more answers to questions that still don’t feel completely explained by the end of the show, then Gracey’s play could be called a complete success.
Overall, there is plenty to thrill and shock audiences so even if you struggle with the opening few scenes – stick with it as by the end you will be shocked and chilled.
Blue Orange Theatre’s production of Jekyll & Hyde appears at the Cockpit Theatre until the 6th February. For more information and to book tickets visit: http://www.thecockpit.org.uk/show/jekyll_hyde