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Theatre Review: Jekyll & Hyde ****

Michael Cox reviews a 'tense and fascinating' production of the classic story.

Jekyll & Hyde is an impressive one-man production. As with Robert Louis Stevenson’s original, the protagonist is Utterson, a London-based lawyer who is a legal fixer for those in need of the law—for the right price. A lifelong friend of Dr Henry Jekyll, Utterson finds himself drawn into the world of Jekyll’s mysterious acquaintance Edward Hyde—a manifestation of evil—that Utterson wants to save Jekyll from. But who is Hyde, and why is Jekyll so drawn to him?

Forbes Masson is excellent in his performance, relaying a story that has shaken him. He doesn’t ‘play’ multiple roles but gives voice to characters he encounters, meaning the whole story is told from his point of view. It is a compelling performance that is riveting from the start: thrilling, interesting and unnerving.

Director Michael Fentiman keeps this 70-minute monologue brisk—it is a tale that is engrossing and suspenseful. Simple lighting and sound flourishes not only maintain a quick pace but also root this in the present.

Gary McNair’s script is compelling. It takes the basic structure of Stevenson’s source and gives it theatrical flourishes and excellent turns of phrase—it sounds current while being respectful to the original.

Jekyll & Hyde might have a short running time, but it packs a series of emotional punches. Headlining a superb performance that puts the power of storytelling front and centre, the production is tense and fascinating.

Jekyll & Hyde performs at the Royal Lyceum until January 27, 2024. It then tours to Perth Theatre, Dundee Rep and Macrobert Arts Centre.

Tags: theatre

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