Jekyll and Hyde is in the “Dance, Physical Theater and Circus” section of the Ed Fringe catalog and I think that is an apt descriptor. When I think of a dance performance, I think of lots of movement, lots of music and little to no speaking. This show, on the other hand, is a fully scripted hour-long play that uses dancerly movements to punctuate the emotions, relationships and of course, the transformation of Henry Jekyll’s world. There is only a little bit of dub-step music when Jekyll is on his benders, and the rest of the dancing is done in line with the dialog.
The story is set in the present and deals not with the original Jekyll character’s desire to extricate his other half, but centers around his desire to treat mental illness. He has anxiety attacks himself, but it is his sister’s crippling agoraphobia and memories of his mother’s condition that drives his research and eventual self-testing of a drug. In my review of the book The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde I said that one thing that remained constant through all of the adaptations I had see was that Jekyll transforms into another person, Hyde. In this show, however, Hyde is a person only Jekyll can see who wields power over Jekyll’s movements and can send him crawling across the floor or paralyzes, leaving him watching helplessly as he murders.
I thought this show was absolutely great. I highly recommend it! The whole Headlock Theatre company did a wonderful job, and both Jekyll (Nathan Spencer) but especially Hyde (Tom Boxall) were totally brilliant. You can learn more about them here: headlocktheatre.co.uk/.
Get tickets: tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/jekyll-and-hyde
But here’s a tip: make sure you sit in the first few rows of the theater. The stage is not raised, so even at 4 rows from the front we lost a lot of the floor work behind the heads of those in front of us. Sitting close to the stage and off to the side is better than being in the center and farther back. Also, don’t forget to look up! The ceiling of the theater in Merchant’s Hall is a magnificent piece of 19th century architecture.
And if you’re lucky, you might run into the friendly cast at the Jekyll and Hyde bar down the street like I did. The atmosphere was dark, but the people were all having a great time so it was really a fun place to stop by. I especially loved the bathrooms hidden behind a false wall of books, and the variety of chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. (Click on any photo to see larger pics)