There are no narrative surprises in this production of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, in which Jekyll (Jonathan Davenport) still refuses visitors, even close friends on urgent business. With a thirty-minute running time, this is a brief adaptation of what is admittedly a brief story, paced reasonably – not too rushed and not too sluggish. It’s all very well streaming something of this length, though for an in-person production this may be better presented as a double-bill alongside another show, seeing as there is really no need to lengthen a story that (in my view) requires no further exposition.
Various voices from eleven other actors appear during the course of proceedings. What appeared to be a handheld camera further compounded the feeling of Jekyll being unsteady. The sound effects worked well: it is surprisingly easy to overdo it when bringing a story of this nature to life, such that what is intended to sound ghoulish tips over into melodrama and therefore becomes rather comical. Not here, though, where the (presumably) desired effect is achieved.
The lighting could, on occasion, have been better, particularly when Jekyll paces the floor of his room. One could argue the illusion of candlelight works too well. Elsewhere, a moment of either total darkness works to the show’s advantage – and to the audience’s – as viewers are spared the most horrific elements of Edward Hyde’s (also Davenport: see what I mean about no surprises?) brutality.
Davenport voices and embodies both characters brilliantly – no mean feat when they are polar opposites. I wasn’t left, as I might be with considerably longer versions of this well-known story (no names), willing for Jekyll to hurry up and drink the potion to see what would happen. Neither was I dissatisfied when the curtain came down so soon after it went up. Short and suitably distinctly not sweet, this is satisfying stuff. A lively and engaging performance.
Review by Chris Omaweng
The Strange Case of
Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde
LIVE from the Pump House Theatre
26-27 November 2020
Original short story by
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
Adapted for online by STUART CROWTHER
JONATHAN DAVENPORT as Henry Jekyll
MARK STRATFORD as the voice of Utterson
CONNIE JACKSON as the voice of Jekyll’s Maid
IAN FLATT as the voice Poole
Directed by STEPHEN SMITH