Tag Archives: Christopher Tester

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


Click here to see our most recent reviews


Dracula – 3.5 Stars



Jack Studio Theatre

Reviewed – 11th October 2018


“it doesn’t always feel like the comedy is intentional”


Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ is a classic horror text and Arrows & Traps Theatre present a lively and committed production of it just in time for Halloween. For those who don’t know the story, Count Dracula is a vampire who feeds off the blood of the living, a murderer and seducer who has just moved from Transylvania to London. He is pursuing Mina Murray, the fiancé of Jonathan Harker, a solicitor who has recently been to visit the Count and is now plagued with visions of terrible things. As time begins to run out, a small team led by Professor Van Helsing, must fight to stop him.

The set, designed by Francine Huin-Wah, works really well. Set over two levels, the theatre is covered in thick castle stone and hung with ropes. The multiple levels allow lots of scope for use of the staging which Ross McGregor, writer and director of the piece, uses for maximum effect. The interweaving narratives are placed alongside each other so that sinister characters lurk in corners of seemingly innocent scenes, foreshadowing what is to come.

The cast is consistently strong. Lucy Ioannou as Lucy, and Beatrice Vincent who plays Mina, are a strong and lively duo. Cornelia Baumann’s Renfield is both terrifying and moving in her performance. Christopher Tester’s Dracula is wonderfully classic, sexual and camp, dressed in the long black robes of the night.

The production does seem occasionally confused – part comic, farcical almost, part genuine horror. A particularly jarring moment of this involves a cover of ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears. Jump scares are followed by comic moments then another jump scare, and it doesn’t always feel like the comedy is intentional. There is a tendency at points towards melodrama but in this context the result is rather a fun one.

This is undoubtedly an entertaining and engaging evening delivered by committed and genuine performances.


Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by Davor Tovarlaza



Jack Studio Theatre until 27th October


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Fear and Misery of the Third Reich | ★★★ | January 2018
The Tempest | ★★★½ | February 2018
Stuffed | ★★★★ | March 2018
Three Sisters | ★★★★ | March 2018
The Golden F**king Years | ★★★ | April 2018
Kes | ★★★★★ | May 2018
The Night Alive | ★★★½ | May 2018
Stepping Out | ★★★ | June 2018
Back to Where | ★★★★ | July 2018
The White Rose | ★★★★ | July 2018
Hobson’s Choice | ★★★★ | September 2018


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