Skip to main content

The Strange Case of Jekyll and Hyde

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars        

When the Edinburgh New Town dwelling Jekyll clan pose for a family portrait at the start of Morna Pearson's loose-knit large-scale reinvention of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel for Lung Ha's Theatre Company, they look like pillars of respectable society. Scratch the surface, however, and beyond Dr Jeremy Jekyll's scientific dissections of the human brain, his wife Jane sees her life through an ever refreshed wine glass, while son William wastes his days in lieu of his inheritance.

It is book-reading daughter Miriam who is most frustrated by her lot, however. Physically restrained by a too tight corset that becomes a symbol of a society that would rather keep women in their place, her fierce intelligence and ambitions for university combined with a blossoming womanhood sees her led astray by a black clad alter ego who unleashes her libertine spirit.

Pearson has constructed a fascinating feminist reimagining of Stevenson's story which resets it in Victorian Edinburgh, the original city where politesse becomes a facade for a far darker Old Town underbelly. This leaves plenty of scope for light and shade in Caitlin Skinner's production, which navigates Lung Ha's regular ensemble of some seventeen performers through the big city bustle.

Much of the atmosphere is helped along on designer Becky Minto's tableau of arches and Edinburgh landmarks by Greg Sinclair's live piano and voice-led score, performed by members of the show's co-producers, Drake Music Scotland. This lends things a Hammer horror eerieness which Skinner and choreographer Christine Devanay take full advantage of, as Emma McCaffrey's Miriam is burled through the city by Nicola Tuxworth's veiled and silent Hyde before Miriam is liberated forever.

The Herald, March 23rd 2015
 
ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Futureproof 2017

Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow until February 4th 2018
Four stars

Now in its ninth year, Futureproof's showcase of recent graduate photographers from seven Scottish art schools and universities returns to its spiritual home at Street Level, with nineteen artists embracing photo essays, abstraction and constructed narratives. It is Karlyn Marshall's Willies, Beuys and Me that grabs you first. Tucked in a corner, this depiction of a woman impersonating iconic artist Joseph Beuys says much about gender stereotyping, and recalls Manfred Karge's play, Man to Man, in which a German woman took on her dead husband's identity.

The personal and the political converge throughout. Ben Soedera's Foreign Sands contrasts natural resources and the constructed world. Gareth and Gavin Bragdon's The Bragdon Brothers moves onto the carnivalesque streets of Edinburgh. Kieran Delaney's Moments also looks at the apparently ordinary. Matthew Buick goes further afield, as tourists…

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Bdy_Prts

Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
Saturday December 2nd


It should probably come as no surprise that professional dancers are in the audience for the Edinburgh leg of this mini tour by spectral performance art/pop auteurs Bdy_Prts on the back of the release of their sublime debut album, The Invisible Hero. Beyond the music, the raison d’etre of Bdy_Prts’ dynamic duo of Jill O'Sullivan and Jenny Reeve, after all, is a flamboyantly costumed display of kinetic physical jerks and modernist shape-throwing to illustrate a set of fizzing machine-age chorales.

In this sense, the Bdy_Prts live experience is several works of art for the price of one that's a long way from the pair's formative work fronting Sparrow and the Workshop (O'Sullivan) and Strike the Colours (Reeve). Part living sculptures, part Bloomsbury Group super-heroines, part widescreen pop fabulists, O'Sullivan and Reeve paint their faces with ancient symbols and sport customised shoulder pads that look both seasonally …