Reviewed: The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde
Published: 19 Oct 2012 12:300 comments
From the expertly crafted set to the actors' near-seamless movement between characters and the pitch-perfect music, Hull Truck's production of The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde is a stunning piece of theatre.
Director Nick Lane's adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novella tells the dark tale of an oddball scientist, Dr Jekyll, played by James Weaver, who is working to 'split the mind' in order to cure all manner of Victorian mental health complaints. As the gothic tale unfolds and the doctor - in a desperate move to push his research forward - begins experimenting on himself, it emerges that Dr Jekyll has unleashed the very darkest corners of his consciousness, over which he is swiftly losing control.
Weaver's performance is utterly compelling, his transformations convincing, chilling and moving in equal measure, and his fellow cast members John Gully, and Joanna Miller are strong in multiple and changing roles. The shared narration is a clever device, with the characters often remaining onstage, not a full part of the action but adding extra layers with a glance, a subtle sound effect (the hissing of Jekyll trapped inside Hyde's head?), or change of pose.
A standout scene is one where the hellish Dr Jekyll inflicts an horrific beating on an old man with his walking stick, acted in a slow motion sequence which is as shocking as it is exquisitely measured. As the lights go down before the interval, the last thing we glimpse is Hyde's face, contorted in a silent yet blood-curdling yell, chilling us to the bone.
As well as being a powerful piece of theatre, the production leaves us with a lot to ponder, from how far ethics must be strained for the sake of scientific progress and what madness truly is, to whether - as Hyde spits at lawyer Utterson - the hedonistic, violence-fuelled, morally-bankrupt figure he cuts really is the future of mankind.