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Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

Robert Louis Stevenson, adapted by David Edgar
Touring Consortium Theatre Company / Rose Theatre Kingston
Grand Theatre, Blackpool

Phil Daniels in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at Blackpool Grand

Perhaps Robert Louis Stevenson invented the concept of ‘two for the price of one’ with his Victorian horror story about the dual character of Jekyll & Hyde.

Either way, this stage adaptation by David Edgar also offers value for money with the type of lighting, sound and stage design not always afforded to touring theatre. In capturing the candle-lit shadows, smoky exteriors and ghostly half-light, this production from the Touring Consortium Theatre Company is first class when it comes to re-creating some of the atmosphere of the original novel.

The Grand is fortunate indeed to be one of the seven regional theatres enjoying the calibre of such performances.

Edgar has returned the story to its origins and the Victorians’ scientific fascination with human personality. So it’s less of the macabre mystery story than a philosophical examination of the way in which good and evil can exist side by side in the same human heart.

Which gives the play itself something of a split personality.

While the eminently respectable Dr Jekyll debates his theories, at length and in-depth, with his contemporaries, his villainous counterpart plays Hyde and seek with the same set of characters. It leads to an uneven pace between the deep discussions and the physical drama of the story.

But it does give a seasoned actor like Phil Daniels the full opportunity to revel in the title roles. As Jekyll he is all urbane civility; as Hyde he comes close to chewing the scenery. And as both characters conspire to blend into one irreparably-damaged human being, he delivers a compelling performance, even if his heavy Scots brogue is not always so coherent.

Given modern sensibilities, this stage adaptation is never quite going to be a full-blown fright night, nor is it intended to be. But there are just enough tricks, mostly of sound and light, to keep some on the edge of their seats while others simply revel in a quality piece of theatre.

Reviewer: David Upton