Hyde & Seek
3 stars ***
C Nova (Venue 145)
OF ALL THE images of the divided self that stalk our culture, there’s none more vivid than that of Dr Jekyll, the respectable 19th century man of medicine who, at night, transforms into a monster of lust and violence known as Mr. Hyde. And the impact seems all the stronger, because this story comes from the pen of Robert Louis Stevenson, not only one of the greatest storytellers who ever lived, but a writer so full of wit and humanity that his horror at Jekyll’s fate takes on whole new dimensions of pity and sorrow.
So it’s not surprising that the Edinburgh-based writer, actor, and Robert Louis Stevenson scholar Michael Daviot has taken RLS’s great masterpiece as the inspiration for his own theatrical memoir about a divided self, and about the splitting of identity that can happen, when the self is subjected to fierce social and ideological pressure. Hyde & Seek is a gentle show, an intensely personal exploration of Daviot’s own story, of its links with Stevenson’s life and work, and of how both express a certain dramatic, self-suppressing quality that has been a key part of Scotland’s emotional and intellectual life, from James Hogg to R.D.Laing. Within those limits, though, it’s a beautifully-written and intensely thoughtful monologue, performed with flair and passion; and a superb introduction to the spirit of Stevenson, to his gorgeous prose, and to his continuing significance, both in Scotland, and far beyond it.