BWW Review: DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE at Elmwood Playhouse
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at the Elmwood Playhouse, directed effortlessly by Debra Lee Failla gave the adapted story by Jeffrey Hatcher, a schizophrenic spin on the classic story by Robert Louis Stevenson. Utilizing the black box space of the Elmwood Playhouse, a red door is the constant theme on stage. Perhaps to signify blood and death, for each character in the play has some interaction with this set design throughout the two act play. David Julin has other impressive scenic moments, but this stands alone as quite commanding.
The story takes place in London, from the London streets to scenes in laboratories and parks. The underscoring by Ben McCormack created a menacing dynamic and in tandem with Mike Gnazzo's lighting design, it was easy to feel transformed within the 19th Century.
The play is a quite a challenge to pull off and has some confusing elements to it, but it is to no fault of the top tier actors and creative team. All the actors play multiple roles except for John Ade, who grounds the show as the tortured Dr. Henry Jekyll. Mr. Ade gives his performance a great deal of physical and emotional intensity and it is truly an acting achievement.
What sets this version apart is the inspired choice to have 3 actors and an actress play the menacing "Hyde." This perhaps represents the despicable underlying traits of the kind and respectable Dr. Jekyll - which he subconsciously is. Dr. Jekyll can be on the outside looking in as Hyde kills prostitutes and colleagues who cross him. It is not until the main "Hyde" played by Neil Battinelli, finds an amorous connection with the Chambermaid Elizabeth, played with pathos by Dana Duff that threatens to blow his Jekyll's cover.
All the other actors provide wonderful support including Meg Sewell, Victor Gallo and Scott Nangle. I was quite impressed with how articulate and well projected their stage voices were. Sometimes when using English accents, it is hard to understand, but Ms. Failla clearly knew how to direct her actors to be clear and concise.
As one knows with this story, the story ultimately becomes horrific and quite sad. I was certainly left thinking about the message of the show from Dr. Jekyll's final words - which I will not give away. His final line has stayed with me way longer then the anything else in this play. Is that not what a theatrical experience is all about?
"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" runs through February 12, 2017 at Elmwood Playhouse, 10 Park Street Nyack, NY.
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