BWW Reviews: JEKYLL AND HYDE, The Southwark Playhouse, September 27 2013
"The human condition...we never know when to stop, do we?"
Flipping the Bird's striking take on a classic is an eerie, surreal production, swinging effectively from snuffed-up and abstract to the palpably mundane. The story is a little different to what you might expect, but maintains the essence of Stevenson's novella - a gifted scientist who is ultimately horrified by his own work and the control it has over him.
Throughout the performance, actor-musicianship is used very inventively and with great success. Particularly Elliot Rennie's vocals and cello work here intensely effective in creating a bizarre and downright frightening atmosphere. It was quite animalistic and complimented the story's themes extremely well - hats off to Director Jessica Edwards and Movement Director Fionn Cox-Davies. Michael Edwards provoked much empathy with his subtle portrayal of Henry Utterson, made all the more compelling by Jonathan Holloway's slight adaptation of the script.
Holloway's tweaking of Stevenson's story makes the show more complex thematically and in terms of the characters' relationships with one another, and also just provides a fresh tint on a story most people at least vaguely know. For the play's majority, I think this is extremely successful, though there were a couple of moments when it felt like the audience were being deliberately shocked. Also, the Victorian literary fashion of labouring the horror of something is arguably less effective than just allowing observers to feel horrified, though its use here does help to maintain a certain sense of context. Grace Nicholas has also done a wonderful, original job with the costumes.
All in all, this is an imperfect production - there were a couple of points when performances became quite demonstrative and the beautifully crafted atmosphere was lost. However, the show is extremely interesting and very worth a watch. For an innovative, quirky theatrical experience, I highly recommend the Southwark Playhouse's Jekyll and Hyde.
Jekyll and Hyde will run at the Southwark Playhouse until October 19 2013.