Monday, 9 November 2015

The Strange Case of Jekyll and Hyde

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow
Three stars

A crazed Mr Hyde straddles his bed-bound creator pleading with him not to kill him off because he's the only interesting character who's sprung to life from Robert Louis Stevenson's gothic tale of duality and barely repressed madness. This is a tellingly knowing nod to the twenty-first century's ongoing fascination with horror. It's there too in Lucien MacDougall and Benedicte Seierup's production, devised with nine final year students from the RCS' BA acting course, in some of the jump-cut film footage that cops its moves from the likes of American Horror Story in terms of its power to shock.

With Stevenson here cast as plain old Louis, he is woken from his medicated dream in a hospital ward and tended to by a pyjama-clad chorus who watch enraptured from the sidelines as the main action unfolds. What follows is a psycho-active explosion in Louis' head reminiscent at times of the hallucinogenic fantasias of Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective. With song one of the few devices not used here, Louis' visions of Dr Jekyll's double life as the monstrous Hyde are made flesh by way of a box of tricks that includes shadowplay, kaleidoscopic projections and composer Lewis Anderson and sound designer Sean Quinn's foley-style percussion-led live soundtrack.

At the heart of this montage-like approach are a set of performances that navigate the Chandler Studio's full expanse by way of Emma Green's set design. The programme even comes with a Cluedo-style ground-plan of Jekyll's house to fill in the gaps where Chloe-Ann Tylor's feral Hyde might venture before Ryan Havelin's Louis wakes up to a far harsher reality.

The Herald, November 10th 2015.

ends

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