Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

REVIEW: Kip Williams Adapts and Directs Robert Louis Stevenson's Gothic Thriller STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE With Mixed Results

STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE

REVIEW: Kip Williams Adapts and Directs Robert Louis Stevenson's Gothic Thriller STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE With Mixed Results

Thursday 11th August 2022, 7:30pm, Roslyn Packer Theatre

Following on from the success of merging live performance and live video capture, Kip Williams has given STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR Hyde the same treatment with the addition of a second performer. Gathering the same creative team that delivered the award-winning PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY, Williams and Sydney Theatre Company test whether the same formula can be used twice.

REVIEW: Kip Williams Adapts and Directs Robert Louis Stevenson's Gothic Thriller STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE With Mixed Results Kip Williams has a long history of incorporating live video into his theatre creations, leading to his 2020 production of THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY featuring a solo performance from Eryn Jean Norvill. Following the success of that work, he has sought to recreate the magic by applying the same principles to his adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE but for this work, he opts for two performers, Matthew Backer and Ewen Leslie, and more scenes presented purely on screen with the live performance fully obscured.

REVIEW: Kip Williams Adapts and Directs Robert Louis Stevenson's Gothic Thriller STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE With Mixed Results For the adaptation, Williams draws directly from Stevenson's gothic novella, celebrating the source text and return the focus of the majority of the 110 minute performance to Lawyer Utterson's quest to find out why the mysterious Mr Hyde is passing cheques signed by Dr Jekyll, why the grotesque stranger is now the sole beneficiary to the upstanding doctor's will and why Dr Jekyll has not been seen for a long time. This commitment to the original work also ensures that this work should be free from comparison to the musical adaptation which is currently performing across town. Given that the focus of the work is Utterson's search, Matthew Backer performs the character almost solely while Ewen Leslie shifts between Dr Jekyll, Mr Hyde, Utterson's cousin Richard Enfield, Jekyll's friend Dr Lanyon, Jekyll's butler Mr Poole and other characters along with adopting a narrator's position. As with the source material, the work is split into chapters that also divide the into Utterson's understanding of what is happening and the eventual reveal of the truth through the final chapter of Henry Jekyll's Full Statement of the Case.

REVIEW: Kip Williams Adapts and Directs Robert Louis Stevenson's Gothic Thriller STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE With Mixed Results An ongoing challenge with live video projection has been the time delay for vision leaving a mismatch with any dialogue and footage of mouths. For Williams earlier works, he removed some of the problems with this technological conundrum by not focusing the camera on the performer's mouth, opting to capture other physical elements like eyes, or providing an insight into another character's response to the dialogue. With close ups on the speaker's mouth the delay cannot be missed, exaggerated further for any footage captured by the wireless cameras, leading to a somewhat nauseating experience that leads the viewer to try to focus on the live performance instead. This however is not always possible with this design as many more scenes are presented with the live performance completely obscured, forcing the screens to be viewed. This further forcing the eye to the screens makes it feel like Williams is trying to tell the audience, and the industry, that they'd rather be working in a different industry to live theatre.

REVIEW: Kip Williams Adapts and Directs Robert Louis Stevenson's Gothic Thriller STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE With Mixed Results The artistic choices taken for this work also feel too forced, as if trying to tick marketing demographic indicator boxes but not achieving the polish and visual impact of its predecessor. While the majority of the work is set in the gloomy shadows of Victorian London, with design by Marg Horwell and lighting design by Nick Schlieper, the descent into the hedonistic underworld that Dr Jekyll describes in his final statement feels too much like an attempt to satisfy audiences looking for the bright imagery of DORIAN GREY without really challenging the audience with a new aesthetic while not quite achieving the polish or grunge appropriate to the story at hand. The sets are minimal with somewhat simplistic design, more engineered for the camera angles than the visual impact of the actual scenes, which combined with the video renderings, though trying to replicate early movies, often comes across as somewhat unfinished and simplified compared with what we know the team and technology can achieve. The soundscape, composed by Clemence Williams, of contemporary arrangements for strings works well, echoing the visual aesthetic of 19th century settings and costumes working with 21st century technology.

REVIEW: Kip Williams Adapts and Directs Robert Louis Stevenson's Gothic Thriller STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE With Mixed Results While the sound design has a high degree of echo, distorting the ability to understand some of the faster monologues, particularly from Ewen Leslie, both Leslie and Matthew Backer deliver strong performances. Keeping the role of Utterson throughout, Backer captures the lawyers reserved and conservative nature through both his speech patterns and his physicality. Leslie shifts between the other characters though it is the dialogue that drives the recognition of which role he is undertaking. The prerecorded work layered into the live footage is used to assist with some of the transitions Leslie makes while the set pieces obscure physical view of the live performer.

REVIEW: Kip Williams Adapts and Directs Robert Louis Stevenson's Gothic Thriller STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE With Mixed Results While the earlier DORIAN GREY elicited wonder and awe with its somewhat revolutionary take on contemporary theater, this revisiting of the formula for STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE indicates that something new needs to be provided or at the very least, technology needs to improve before this format is completely appropriate, particularly if focus relies on sound to be in sync with images.

https://cloud.broadwayworld.com/rec/ticketclick.cfm?fromlink=2191147®id=189&articlelink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sydneytheatre.com.au%2Fwhats-on?utm_source=BWW2022&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=article&utm_content=bottombuybutton1/productions/2022/strange-case-of-dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde

Photos: Daniel Boud

REVIEW: Kip Williams Adapts and Directs Robert Louis Stevenson's Gothic Thriller STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE With Mixed Results

Regional Awards


From This Author - Jade Kops

Jade is an Aviation Safety Training Instructor with a love of Theatre, Cabaret, Musical Theatre, and music and is a committed advocate for the live performing arts industry in Sydney and Australia.... (read more about this author)


REVIEW: The Importance Of Accuracy In Addressing Real Events Is Examined In The Dramatisation Of THE LIFESPAN OF A FACTREVIEW: The Importance Of Accuracy In Addressing Real Events Is Examined In The Dramatisation Of THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT
September 25, 2022

John D’Agata and Jim Fingal’s book is given the live theatre treatment in Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell and Gordon Farrell’s interpretation of THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT.

REVIEW: Kim Ho's THE GREAT AUSTRALIAN PLAY Doesn't Seek To Add To The List But Rather Challenge ThemREVIEW: Kim Ho's THE GREAT AUSTRALIAN PLAY Doesn't Seek To Add To The List But Rather Challenge Them
September 25, 2022

Challenging the question of what causes a piece of theatre to be afforded the reputation of THE GREAT AUSTRALIAN PLAY, this new work from Kim Ho is a reflection on his own work being elevated then swiftly challenged. 

REVIEW: CHALKFACE Goes Behind The School Staffroom Door For An Honest And Humorous Look At The Realities Of The Public Education SystemREVIEW: CHALKFACE Goes Behind The School Staffroom Door For An Honest And Humorous Look At The Realities Of The Public Education System
September 21, 2022

Angel Betzien’s CHALKFACE challenges the flaws with the public education system with hilarious black comedy. 

REVIEW: TITANIC: THE MOVIE, THE PLAY Distills James Cameron's Cinematic Marathon Into 60 Minutes Of Madcap Interactive TheatreREVIEW: TITANIC: THE MOVIE, THE PLAY Distills James Cameron's Cinematic Marathon Into 60 Minutes Of Madcap Interactive Theatre
September 18, 2022

25 years after James Cameron reawakened interest in the famous/infamous unsinkable ship, TITANIC: THE MOVIE, THE PLAY revisits the ill-fated love story with amusing economy. 

REVIEW: Putting the Trans Female Experience On Stage, OVERFLOW Is An Enlightening and Entertaining ExperienceREVIEW: Putting the Trans Female Experience On Stage, OVERFLOW Is An Enlightening and Entertaining Experience
September 15, 2022

Travis Alabanza’s (playwright) OVERFLOW is a brilliantly funny and powerfully informing new theatre work that puts the Trans experience in the spotlight.