Tag Archives: Anna Reddyhoff

The Strange Case Of Jekyll & Hyde

★★★★★

Jack Studio Theatre

The Strange Case Of Jekyll & Hyde

The Strange Case Of Jekyll & Hyde

Jack Studio Theatre

Reviewed – 5th September 2019

★★★★★

 

“an incredibly well thought out piece of theatre that grips and entertains the whole way through”

 

It is not hard to imagine the themes of Jekyll and Hyde transplanting themselves into the present day – science going too far, people struggling with their inner demons – and, indeed, The Strange Case of Jekyll and Hyde merges these so perfectly with the 21st century, it almost makes you question why it hasn’t been done before. Whether it is good vs evil, love vs hate, or Republicans vs Democrats, nothing is off limits in this clever and compelling take on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel.

Set in an approximation of present day America, against the backdrop of a Trump impeachment, an avalanche of mass shootings, and mounting political tensions, this production not only offers up Gothic drama but infuses it with a modern and bitter poignancy. Although viewers are most likely familiar with the original twist of the novel, the play begins by throwing out scattered new pieces of mystery. The book’s sincere narrator Gabriel Utterson becomes troubled anti-heroine Gabrielle Utterson (Lucy Ioannou), a woman with dark secrets lurking behind her eyeliner-bedecked eyes. Taking on the role of journalist, she seeks to piece together the link between charismatic mayor Henry Jekyll (Will Pinchin), and villain Hyde (Christopher Tester). Why is the same Hyde seen assaulting a minor, shown just four years ago to be an affable schoolteacher in a relationship with Jekyll? As she becomes drawn closer into Jekyll’s world as his Presidential campaign manager, both the story and her unhealthy personal involvement only deepens.

A cast of characters support the main trio. Sex worker Imogen Poole (Gabrielle Nellis-Pain) turns from witness to Hyde’s horrors to Utterson’s love interest in a satisfying character arc. And scientist Hayley Lanyon (Charlie Ryall) pops up now and again to give insights on Jekyll’s scientific past. All in all, there are exceptional performances from every member of the cast. The script naturally gives Pinchin the most time to shine, but Nellis-Pain’s understated portrayal of what could have easily been a background character is also incredibly strong.

Each character also feels well-grounded in reality. Writer and director Ross McGregor has done well fleshing out the ideas of the novel, and a rich script keeps the cast well supplied with material, from quick ripostes that are both smart and searingly relevant, to high-stakes political debates, and soul-searching monologues. Credit must go also go to costume design (Bryony J. Thompson) for making Jekyll look so much like a Kennedy, and for Utterson’s wonderfully Victorian ensemble – a stylish homage to the story’s home era.

Despite the realism of the setting, the production still retains elements of Gothic spectacle, and it’s these two strands together that make it such a brilliant, bold, and unforgettable performance. Both the lighting (Anna Reddyhoff) and set design (Charlotte Cooke) work hand in hand to magnify the drama – with, eerie red, blue, and fluorescent lights, and a partly-transparent screen (a visual representation of many of the play’s themes) used to great effect. And the sound (Alistair Lax) heightens the drama in all the right places.

The final result is an incredibly well thought out piece of theatre that grips and entertains the whole way through.

 

 

Reviewed by Vicky Richards

Photography by  Davor Tovarlaza

 


The Strange Case Of Jekyll & Hyde

Jack Studio Theatre until 28th September

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Radiant Vermin | ★★★★ | November 2018
Sweet Like Chocolate Boy | ★★★★★ | November 2018
Cinderella | ★★★ | December 2018
Gentleman Jack | ★★★★ | January 2019
Taro | ★★★½ | January 2019
As A Man Grows Younger | ★★★ | February 2019
Footfalls And Play | ★★★★★ | February 2019
King Lear | ★★★ | March 2019
The Silence Of Snow | ★★★ | March 2019
Queen Of The Mist | ★★★½ | April 2019

 

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Reformation
★★★

White Bear Theatre

Reformation

Reformation

White Bear Theatre

Reviewed – 27th June 2019

★★★

 

“a play with bold intentions, but let down by a certain tone and execution”

 

James Martin Charlton’s new play ‘Reformation’ certainly would not make it before the watershed. This shocking and often disturbing play tackles the topics of predatory sex, religion and control. It is set in Berlin in 1529 at the peak of the tensions during the Reformation.

Some of the more aristocratic characters are rooted in real life figures, such as Protestant artist Lucas Cranach and the Elector of Brandenburg. However, Martin Charlton describes his work as ‘a speculation’ or ‘dream’ of fictional interactions between historical characters and more lowly, invented ones.

The story has several interweaving strands, linked by smooth lighting changes between scenes. Its story centres around a budding romance between peasant girl ‘Ava’, and the son of famous painter Lucas Cranach. Alongside this, we see the morally corrupt Elector, who is advised by the Bishop to commission a painting by Cranach showing the evil possibilities of sexual promiscuity. Cranach offers Ava the opportunity to model for his new artwork, entitled ‘The Rape of Lucrece’. When the Elector falls in love with the girl in the image, we see Cranach’s loyalties conflicted as he must choose whether to sell his son’s peasant lover.

Martin Charlton attempts to show the underbelly of Reformation society unfortunately fall flat. Ava (Alice De- Warrenne) is infantilised and manipulated by the men around her. It is uncomfortable to watch much older actor’s view her naked and consistently touch her throughout the performance. Jason Wing’s performance as Cranach is somewhat one dimensional – flitting between emotionally flat and uncontrolled shouting. The explicit sexual content is a distraction, from what might otherwise be a very interesting look into the lives of those not usually seen. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the consistently misogynist rhetoric and lack of a strong female lead, felt exploitative.

Director Janice Dunn takes cues from the script and sets the play in an ambiguous time frame. The costumes range from hoodies and leather jackets to waistcoats and robes to create a sense that this is certainly not 1529. Additionally, a range of music from different time periods is used between scene transitions. This is done to make the story appear relevant to the modern audience. However, it makes the dated ideals shown even more at odds with today’s cultural politics. Dunn’s direction also makes the role of the audience unclear. As you enter, the actors are positioned frozen, ignoring the audience’s arrival. The audience settle in as the spy on the wall. As the play continues, there are then odd moments in which actors suddenly appear to see audience members again, shattering the illusion that was once created.

A more positive note about this production is its use of lighting (Anna Reddyhoff) and set design (Lucy Bond). The pale sparse staging is complemented by the continually changing palate of lighting colours. It not only mirrors the feelings of the scene, but also helps to change the settings, clarifying the action.

All in all, this is a play with bold intentions, but let down by a certain tone and execution.

 

Reviewed by Emily Morris

Photography by Max Williams

 


Reformation

White Bear Theatre until 13th July

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Grimm’s Fairy Tales | ★★ | April 2018
Lovebites | ★★★ | April 2018
The Old Room | ★★ | April 2018
The Unnatural Tragedy | ★★★★★ | July 2018
Eros | ★★ | August 2018
Schrodinger’s Dog | ★★★★ | November 2018
Franz Kafka – Apparatus | ★★★ | January 2019
The Project | ★★★ | March 2019
Swimming | ★★★★ | April 2019
Garry | ★★★ | June 2019

 

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