BWW Review: World Premiere DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE Bows at LGBT Center
As part of Hollywood Fringe 2018, the world premiere Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde bowed at LGBT in Hollywood on the smaller stage on June 9 for 10 performances. Based on Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, this adaptation is written by Fringe veterans Burt Grinstead and Anna Stromberg who also perform the piece. Grinstead plays the dual main characters and Stromberg everyone else, including maids, professors, detectives, Sara, Jekyll's love interest and even small children. Set in London in 1865, the story takes a few twists and turns from the original, but still focuses on Jekyll's scientific study of good and evil. Grinstead and Strombeg lace their script with lots of dark humor and farce, making us question at first whether we are watching a comedy or a thriller. As the plot moves along, though, the joke lines become a naturally entertaining part of the proceedings.
Both actors display a great deal of charm, courage and panache as they barrel through the story at a fast but smooth pace, cautiously directed by Stromberg to ensure that a younger audience may keep up with the storyline. Grinstead is adept at playing dual characters as he essayed them brilliantly in Dying City a few years back. His Jekyll is filled with a no nonsense, purposeful intent as he tries to uncover the reason for evil and his Hyde is big, bold and scary invented with just a top hat, broader movements about the stage and lowering his voice an octave or two. The strong aspect of his Jekyll is that the insecurity of what he is trying to do always shines through. Stromberg is nothing short of amazing, as within what seems a split second, she is first the sweet caring Sara and then the gruff professor father who speaks with an alarmingly intelligent and thick Cockney accent. She keeps this up consistently throughout the 80-minute play. She pops up from behind a barrier of set pieces as the professor and then skips out to the side wearing a hoop skirt as Sara. My favorite is where she essays a heartless detective in conversation with Hyde, and just by moving her head so as to disappear behind him, she feigns the tiny crying voice of a small child that Hyde as just practiclaly trampled to death.
I cannot say enough about the pacing of the play, as it never lets down, keeping us on the edge of our seats in horror or laughter, as the case may be. Grinstead is responsible for the great sound and praise as well to Matthew Richter for his spectacular lighting. The lurid green background adds so much to the mood of Hyde's entrances and descents. Costuming in black works beautifully with Jekyll and Hyde in formal tux coat and Sara in simple black frock. Overall set design with mobile set pieces indicating buildings or furniture is simply executed and exceedingly functional. The tech team of Adam Martin and Dennis Peraza are invaluable. As in any Fringe show, it's get in, set up fast and get out to make room for the next. It always amazes me how actors manage to execute it all as well as they do. Dr. Jekylll & Mr. Hyde is the ultimate example of a perfectly presented Fringe show.
Monday, June 11th, 2018 at 10:30 PM
Tuesday, June 12th, 2018 at 6:30 PM
Wednesday, June 13th, 2018 at 8:30 PM
Monday, June 18th, 2018 at 6:30 PM
Tuesday, June 19th, 2018 at 8:30 PM
Saturday, June 23rd, 2018 at 10 PM