BritishTheatre

Published on

July 30, 2015

REVIEW: Jekyll & Hyde, Platform Theatre ✭✭✭

By

danielcolemancooke

Jekyll and Hyde at Platform Theatre

Jekyll & Hyde

Platform Theatre

29th July 2015

3 Stars

No-one can ever accuse this reinvigoration of being boring or risk-averse. Jonathan Holloway’s production tears up Stevenson’s original novella, transporting the story into a new era, as well as introducing new characters and themes.

Jekyll is no longer a staid man in a suit – instead she’s a female research scientist from Eastern Europe. Scarred by unspeakable (and unspecified) wartime abuse, she comes to England, throwing herself into her research and new career. Finding 19th century England unreceptive to independent female doctors, she does a Viola and disguises herself a man. Tragically, she takes method acting to a new level and slowly transforms into the testosterone monster she fears the most – a certain Mr Hyde.

The concept is a daring and interesting one and in some hands could have been a cast-iron flop. However, it is sufficiently fresh and well executed that the new gender theme feels natural and in keeping with the original – itself an allegory for conflict and duality. The dialogue is fluid and sharp enough to have come from the pen of Stevenson and a new plotline, Jekyll’s love affair with an unfortunate English gentleman, is compelling and well acted.

However, the unfolding story is set within the framework of a publisher trying to buy the tale’s manuscript; this often felt extraneous and the play probably would have been stronger without it. It also suffers from a bit of an identity crisis at times; there a few references to China in the script as well as some lovely Chinese lanterns at the top of the stage. The nods are understandable given the history of the production (a joint British-Hong Kong affair) but they do feel a bit shoehorned in and don’t feel fully developed.

Olivia Winteringham is compelling and multi-layered as the titular characters. She’s devastatingly sexy and seductive when needed but also deranged and terrifying as she transforms into the villain of the piece. Winteringham also at one point took a running jump down a trap door – a feat I’m still pondering how she managed without injuring herself!

Jekyll’s love interest Henry Utterson was also sensitively played by Michael Edwards. The portrayal channeled a nice but troubled man, caught between supporting the woman he loves and staying on the right side of the law. He also showed a flair for comic timing, especially in the scenes when he tries to extricate himself from a crazed fiancée.

Having said that, the intonation of some of the visiting cast members was at times a bit off, sometimes obscuring the quality of the script. It feels awful to say as it must be an epic struggle to act in a second language (I can barely do it in one!) but it was noticeable.

There were some strong performances across the ensemble, impressively juggling a range of parts and musical instruments. The musical interludes were well executed and struck the right tone, although the show’s solitary dance number wasn’t quite as successful, obscured by dry ice and the number of bodies involved.

Neil Irish’s stage was an enigma, with all manner of trap doors and ladders and a seriously clever revolving door, allowing the back of the set to change as frequently as the titular character. The costumes were also flamboyant and colorful, with Jekyll and Hyde’s transformation and different moods well represented through an array of interesting outfits.

Jekyll & Hyde never feels like a gimmick and avoids the traps of so many reworkings. Instead it’s an intelligent and creative production which is well staged, acted and directed throughout.

Jekyll & Hyde runs at the Platform Theatre until 8 August 2015

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The British Theatre website has been established to celebrate the rich and diverse theatrical culture of the United Kingdom.  Our ethos revolves around encouraging and nurturing the performing arts in all its forms. The spirit of theatre is very much alive and the British Theatre website is at the forefront of delivering news and information to audiences and enthusiasts everywhere. Our team of theatre journalists and reviewers are working hard to cover productions and news.


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ABOUT BRITISHTHEATRE

BritishTheatre.com
Opening Night Media Ltd
3rd Floor, 80 St. Martin’s Lane
Covent Garden
London WC2N 4AA

The British Theatre website has been established to celebrate the rich and diverse theatrical culture of the United Kingdom.  Our ethos revolves around encouraging and nurturing the performing arts in all its forms. The spirit of theatre is very much alive and the British Theatre website is at the forefront of delivering news and information to audiences and enthusiasts everywhere. Our team of theatre journalists and reviewers are working hard to cover productions and news.


We are constantly developing the site and are always open to receiving feedback from our readers. Join our mailing list to be kept informed of all the latest news that is of interest to you..