Watermill Theatre - The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
21st May to 1st June 2013 as part of a Watermill Theatre Rural Tour
Review from the Newbury Weekly News and the British Theatre Guide.
A fiend on a street near you
Jekyll and Hyde run at Watermill, then goes on to tour villages
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, at The Watermill, Bagnor, until Saturday, June 1
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote his infamous novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in 10 weeks and was published in 1886 and was an immediate success.
The highly talented Rhum and Clay Theatre Company, together with The Watermill outreach director Beth Flintoff, have inventively adapted this classic story into an ingenious macabre play filled with stunning theatrical creativity and a wonderful sense of the absurd.
Julian Spooner is superb as the brilliant doctor, who works during the day at a London hospital and by night philanthropically helps the poor, ill and wretched folk of the East End of Victorian London, treating them in his own home.
He is desperate to find a cure for mental illness and begins to experiment on himself, creating a potion that turns him into Mr Hyde, an evil predator prowling the streets in the dead of the night, causing havoc as he loses control and transforms into a chilling fiend.
This is very much an ensemble production with the other two actors playing multiple roles. Christopher Harrisson is excellent as the endearing housekeeper Mrs Bradshaw and, by contrast, plays Dr Hastie Lanyon, who is a perfect foil to Jekyll’s ideas.
Mathew Wells is impressive as loyal butler Mr Pool, who begins to suspect his master and brings gravitas to the earnest trustworthy lawyer Gabriel Utterson who is determined to find the elusive Mr Hyde.
There is much fun in this play, as well as powerful dramatic moments, strong physical theatre and clever shadow work, all played with huge energy and at breathtaking speed. Its gothic, unexpected ending caused a gasp from the hugely appreciative audience.
Designer Hayley Grindle had imaginatively recreated a Victorian theatre with a false proscenium arch and an intriguing set with shelves of books, medical bric-a-brac and a double door leading onto the London streets.
Strikingly lit by Lawrence T Doyle and with a haunting atmospheric soundscape by Neil Starke, this was an enthralling production that had a mix of madcap wit in the style of Monty Python with a real feel of the torture and madness of Jekyll’s split personality.
There are reviews from The Stage ("an exhausting and highly entertaining production"), the Oxford Times ("an inventive and hugely entertaining take on the tale" - four stars) and Marlborough People ("this show is full of beans and a good choice for older children and teens to come along to see").