Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

Glyn Maxwell

Storyhouse, Chester

5-19 October 2019; 1hr 20min, no interval

Matthew Flynn as Hyde and Edward Harrison as Jekyll at Storyhouse, Chester. All pics: Mark McNulty

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is the inaugural production in Storyhouse’s eleventh season of original productions. Adapted for the stage by Glyn Maxwell and directed by Psyche Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella is a dramatic study of split personality – or what today we would term schizophrenia.

In Victorian parlance, it is not the mind but the soul that is divided into good and evil, the light and the dark, and this production retains that Victorian setting and language while implicitly acknowledging

the story’s relevance to contemporary themes of addiction.

Its four key characters include two women – a change to Stevenson’s original plot. Lady Gabriel (Natasha Bain) takes on the role of the original narrator, Utterson, while Rose (Rosa Hesmondhalgh), a new addition to the original story, is her young niece, a self -declared woman of science and "wildly curious" about Jekyll’s work.

The conflicted Jekyll (Edward Harrison) is torn between a commitment to scientific discovery and increasing personal danger, while his alter ego, Hyde (Matthew Flynn), is equally conflicted in his desire to come out of the dark and into the light, echoing more Frankenstein’s monster than Jekyll’s Hyde.

Cast members put in strong performances and deliver Maxwell’s sometimes intricate dialogue with dramatic effect. The confrontation between Jekyll and Hyde is particularly powerful, and the relationship between Jekyll and Rose has potential for further dramatic development.

Psyche Stott, working closely with choreographer Paul Bayes Kitcher (Fallen Angels Dance Theatre), keeps the plot moving at a strong pace. The choreographed interaction between Jekyll and Hyde is particularly effective in establishing the conflicted nature of this split character. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a fast paced, strong dramatic retelling of Stevenson’s original story.

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