Tuesday, 20 March 2018

“Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde”
Nottingham Theatre Royal
Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 gothic classic is adapted for the stage by David Edgar, directed by Kate Saxon with Phil Daniels in the title roles.
In a secret experiment, the upright and respectable Dr Henry Jekyll splits his personality into two, releasing the fiendish and murderous Edward Hyde.
As Hyde brings about mayhem, terror and death in foggy London, can Jekyll find a way to suppress his monstrous alter ego, before it takes him over for good?
This adaptation is fairly true to the original with the addition of several more female characters including Katherine, Jekyll’s sister who gives an incite into the relationship that Jekyll had with his Father.
Phil Daniels, I feel doesn’t really make the most of this role – or it may be Director Kate Saxon’s decision to dilute the goth horror feel- but the only sign of the transformation from Jekyll to Hyde is a change of accent to a broad generic Scottish accent. It's like when Batman puts on his mask, no one recognises him, but Hyde hasn't even got a mask, but still no one can see that they are the same person!!
I can remember some of the old horror films of “Jekyll & Hyde” and Hyde was portrayed as an evil, monstrous, snarling animal. I don’t know if I’ve been de sensitized but nothing about this metamorphosis even made me flinch, in fact much of the Hyde parts made me snigger. The character was almost comic, slightly panto-esque.
There was a scene where Jekyll - or was it Hyde - and another character were sitting on cases at the railway station and they just seemed to be shouting at each other even though - as far as I could see - started as a normal conversation. I just didn't get it!
That aside I feel that Daniels has proved his acting worth in the past and this may be forgotten - probably best to - and his previous acting accolades allowed to shine. I loved his Jimmy in "Quadrophenia" and Richards in "Scum" but this role didn't convince me.
I did though like the comic line from Jekyll when asked where he had been he replied "I've been Hyding" oh how I chortled!!
Sam Cox, as butler Poole, adds a little levity with several well aimed asides.
Grace Hogg-Robinson is a convincing maid, Annie, who shows a good deal of emotional intelligence and I loved the accent and physicality of her character.
Polly Frame played Katherine, the sister, another character I enjoyed.
There's a singer, Rosie Abraham, drifts in and out with some oft rambling words in song like "Light", "Da Da Da".and the song that everyone is going to go out into the street singing "Don't Tickle Teddy In the Forest". My question is ....why?
Simon Higlett's set and costume design is evocative of Victorian London and the period. Dark, foggy streets lit spookily by gas and candlelight form a dangerous and creepy landscape. Darkness everywhere and even the walls inside the house are
painted black, except for the blood red door to Hyde's laboratory.
Sound designer, Richard Hammerton's soundscape is nicely eerie, of that's possible. There sound effects are grisly, with a gruesome cracking of bones as Hyde gets rid of politician Carew.
This also, unless I fell asleep part way through, was the only murder we saw. It needs more gore! Maybe they could have added more killings in the first hour of the play which may have made it not seem longer than it actually was.
Look, I may be taking the mick a bit but I was just expecting more. I've seen this play before and remember it was done better. There just wasn't enough of the scare factor in this production with nothing to differentiate the good and the bad sides of the main man. The sight and sounds of theatre seats being vacated before the end of the play is something I've not seen for a long time but tonight............
Murder by Hyde may not have been the only crime committed in this production
“Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde” is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 24 March 2018

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