Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Review – Bradford Alhambra
By Sandra Callard, April 2018
Jekyll and Hyde was written in 1884 and is a typical Gothic horror story set in the dark and foggy streets of Victorian London. It is probably the most famous of Robert Louis Stevenson’s books and is still sold and read in its millions.
This new adaptation is by David Edgar and is directed by Kate Saxon, but sadly fails from the word ‘go’. There is no attempt to create a monster in Mr Hyde, who looks exactly the same as Dr Jekyll but on a bad day. Played by respected actor Phil Daniels, his Hyde is simply a growling, bad-tempered and slightly humorous mirror image of Dr Jekyll.
The clarity of the voices of some of the actors are lost in a welter of accents, from Jekyll’s murderous Scottish twang to servant girl Annie’s massively exaggerated Cockney/Geordie/Brummy take-your-pick accent, which I was pleased to find was totally impossible to understand, and therefore gave me a rest from trying.
Annie is played by Grace Hogg-Robinson, and she does have a cracking good stab at the role of the scared, beaten and raped little servant. She is also very intelligent for a poverty-stricken waif in Victorian England in that she can read fluently and is the first one to work out that Jekyll and Hyde are the same person, long before the city slickers, the politicians and his sister can manage it.
But I was perplexed by many things: one was the vague and numerous appearances of a child singing on a dark balcony, and advising: “Don’t take your teddies to the forest”. But at least I could tell what she said, and Rosie Abraham does have a very sweet voice. Another puzzle was why were there so many doors in the stage setting. I did not know where they were supposed to lead, but all of them had someone knocking on them every few minutes, while no-one seemed to want to open them.
The final scene, where little Annie is locked in Jekyll’s laboratory with him, is verbally long, and completely impossible to understand. Jekyll careers around the stage shouting, throwing objects and abuse at poor Annie. It is long, so very long…
Only Mark Jonathan’s lighting, both on and above the stage, is superb. It evokes a truly Gothic piece of theatre as it moves eerily through the drifting dry ice fog.
The last theatre I saw at The Alhambra was War Horse, a masterly production of a modern classic, whose magnificence cloaked the stage with glory. I simply felt sad that this “Jekyll and Hyde” production came nowhere near it and did not do justice to an enduring classic from our literary history.
images: Mark Douet