When it comes to Jekyll and Hyde, there are two synopses I can give you; the original novelette by Robert Louis Stevenson and the musical version, currently being performed at the Nottingham Arts Theatre and directed by Ren Birkardt. There is surprisingly little crossover between the two. In the play, there is the mad scientist whose desire for progress outweighs his ethics and common sense, the people in charge who are all morally corrupt but seem to have a better grasp of medical ethics. There is the ridiculously supportive friend and fiancé and the ‘other woman’ in every sense of the word, and that is all I’ll say on the matter.
The performance itself was very good, and congratulations should go to Musicality for pulling off this daring piece. The set was versatile, with several key pieces such as the table and the ever moving lamppost cleverly reused for different scenes, though the changes, whilst smooth and well-rehearsed occasionally took a bit too long and made the narrative lag. The lighting was brilliant; diverse and atmospheric, it fitted well with the backdrop of the London skyline. However, occasionally, the lighting changes themselves were somewhat abrupt. These were minor qualms, however, which I have no doubt will be ironed out as the run progresses. Costume, care of Grace Roberts, was similarly excellent and of the correct period; special mention must go to the wardrobe of Emma Carew. The production team also did a wonderful job.
Rob Leventhall was excellent as both Jekyll and Hyde, his physicality and voice changing matched each persona; the transformation scenes being executed with panache. He has clearly had fun with the role!
Charlotte Harrison as Emma Carew was brilliant, giving depth to a character that would have been easy make two dimensional. Her relationship with her father (played by Tom Hicks) was one of the most interesting in the musical. Harrison’s incredible vocal ability must also be acknowledged. The character of Lucy Harris was unfortunately written as the Madonna-whore complex embodied; swinging so wildly between sexual, naïve and romantic that it was jarring. However, Pam MacDuff managed to do a wonderful job, with skilled dance and some very nice singing.
Lyle Fulton played a great Utterson, who tied the narrative together nicely. It was a shame that some abrupt stage exits, though in keeping with the character, meant the loss of some good lines. Spider, a part taken up with gusto by Alex Huntley, was an excellent singer in chorus, and it would have been nice to see more of him as I felt he was set to play a bigger role overall.
The chorus was altogether wonderful; as were all other named parts and everyone involved. No doubt Jekyll and Hyde will only continue to improve throughout its run , but it has already started off with a very high standard. I recommend it to anyone with a free evening and an inclination for musicals, and/or graphic deaths. If that hasn’t intrigued you, I’ll leave you with this one tidbit; the only person who dies in the book manages to live, but everyone else appears to be fair game.
Jekyll and Hyde runs at the Nottingham Arts Theatre until Saturday 2nd March 2013. For ticket information go to: https://www.facebook.com/events/486752371362206/?fref=ts