Jekyll & Hyde
3 stars ***
Assembly Roxy (Venue 139)
ON A SMALL stage, with an ingenious set by Joanna Scotcher that evokes both a Victorian gothic streetscape and a series of sinister interiors, two men in white-face makeup and period costime are posturing around in the worst possible student-drama style. They assume elaborately posh accents, yowl their way through some deliberately grotesque song, and provide a framing narrative for this new and radicval version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll And Hydeby Jonathan Hollaway.
The omens are not good, in other words, and the temptation to rise up and flee the theatre is almost overwhelming; but for those who grit their teeth and stay the course, Jessica Edwards’s production finally offers a memroable mix of the unbearably mannered and the strangely brilliant, as Holloway experiments with the idea of a female Jekyll driven mad by the gender constraints of the age, a superb scientist who also prowls the city like a sexually liberated vampire. Cristina Catalina is impressive as Jekyll, Michael Edwards turns in a fine performance as the baffled Utterson, the object of her desire; and despite the old-fashioned Eighties-physical-theatre aesthetic that seems to drive the choral element of the production, Holloway’s text offers an interesting and original response to the Jekyll & Hyde story, that adds a new dimension to our understanding of Stevenson’s masterpiece.