DR JEKYLL & MR HYDE | London, New Wimbledon Studio Theatre

Four actors guide us through Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale about man’s duality in a tight seventy-five minutes, each playing a variety of roles, including the author himself (Ryan Philpott). The adaptation (also Ryan Philpott) focuses on educating us about the unusual circumstances behind the iconic novella’s creation, and the pioneering structural features of the writing, in addition to presenting the story as written.

Dickens Theatre Company describe their mission statement as being committed to producing high-quality stage adaptations of literary classics studied at Key Stages 2, 3 & 4. Faithful to the original, with quick and engaging action throughout, this is a perfect introduction for students studying the work as a set text.

There are some confusing elements. Why does Robert Louis Stevenson, as narrator, speak in rhyme? The synth-recorded musical score (Paul Higgs) is excellent, but the use of theramin and Hitchcock-esque strings evokes a 1950s B-movie, which doesn’t match the play’s setting or style.

The production (Eric Richard) is simple and designed for touring: it’s a shame not more could be more done to convey the story’s Victorian magic and supernatural elements. But in general, this is a clear, well-acted studio production that gets directly to the heart of the novella’s themes and creation.

Playing 23 – 28 May 2022 in the Studio at New Wimbledon Theatre.

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