Hyde (Kurt Rhoads) jekylls with Mr. Utterson (Stephen Temperley)
in Pioneer Theatre's "Jekyll and Hyde."
story of Dr. Jekyll
and Mr. Hyde has been done and done several times over, from a fairly
regrettable musical version to The Nutty Professor (just
think of it as the comedy version). So its to the Pioneer
Theater Companys credit that their production of Jekyll
and Hyde is, first of all, not a musical, and second, good.
in case you have managed to avoid the story thus far in life, Dr.
Jekyll, an English scientist of the late 19th century, becomes fascinated
with discovering the secret to the darker side of human nature.
After receiving his fathers notebooks on the subject, he de-vises
a potion that turns him into his evil counterpart, Mr. Hyde. His
life slowly overturns as his mur-dering, impregnating, menace-to-society
alter ego takes over his existence. His friends and loved ones grow
all the more suspicious of his mysterious friend, and he becomes
increasingly unable to stop him.
a relatively new, reworked version of the story, first per-formed
in Birmingham (England, not Alabama) in 1996. Perhaps be-cause of
this, it avoids many of the potholes of the Victorian British thriller.
Yes, there are the heavy ac-cents and the strict Victorian val-uesand
the walking sticks that double sooo easily as weapons, but the play
is also an examination of identity and how it ties in to the sins
of our past (and present).
the beginning, the play devotes a bit of discussion to these issues,
but they dont drag it down. Perhaps due in part to being a
modern reworking, Jekyll and Hyde moves trippingly along,
going from the initial idea to its fulfillment (and over-fulfill-ment)
fairly quickly. Sadly, the tail end of the play does get dragged
down under the weight of its own pathos. Far from just receiv-ing
his fathers notebooks, Jekyll apparently received most of
his lifes problems there as well. Other plot events smack
of the late 20th century as well. However, the body of the play
manages to balance out all this drama with the pieces actual
when he isnt bouncing around like a 10-year-old and hiding
under the table, Mr. Hyde (played by Tony Blair look-alike Kurt
Rhoads), is a damn good vil-lain. With his menacing chuckle and
wicked sneer, its actually believable when other characters
on stage have no clue that he is the same man as their upstanding
Dr. Jekyll. You are honestly disturbed when you see him hiding behind
a door or accosting people in the street.
also honestly wish the sound guy would turn down that damn clock
ticking in the back-ground every time something bad is about to
happen, and scale the ominous music waaayyy back. Fortunately, the
cool revolving set makes up for the unwanted noise. The production
makes good use of a triangular wall that reduces set pieces to shadows
and outlines as it moves.
like this are what keep Jekyll and Hyde firmly planted
in the thriller category, and what make it as good as it is.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde plays through Nov. 15. Tickets are available
Call 355-ARTS for more information.
Mr. Hyde (Kurt Rhoads) jekylls with Mr. Utterson (Stephen Temperley)
in Pioneer Theatres Jekyll and Hyde.