Tag Archives: Robert Louis Stevenson

The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde 


Wilde Theatre, Bracknell

The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell

Reviewed – 18th September 2020



“a taut psychological drama that is both true to the period whilst remaining vivid and accessible to contemporary viewers”


The theatrical flame was burning brightly again at Bracknell’s South Hill Park last night. Their Wilde Theatre reopened for one night only for a stylish and thrilling live and live-streamed performance of ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde’.

This revival is the work of resident company, Blackeyed Theatre, and was written by its excellent Director, Nick Lane. The recording is also to be made available on demand to schools with full support materials via blackeyedtheatre.co.uk.

Robert Stevenson’s 100 page novella has been adapted into over 120 films and plays. Over 100 years since it was written, it continues to inspire new creativity and to feature on school syllabuses. Put out of your head the schlock horror of some of those earlier film versions. This is a taut psychological drama that is both true to the period whilst remaining vivid and accessible to contemporary viewers.

The show opens as the lights go up on Victoria Spearing’s cleverly expressive set. The back wall is washed in red light and a jumble of piled up cupboards functions equally well as the laboratory where Dr Jekyll carries out his wild experiments or the morgue where Mr Hyde’s victims are inspected.

Some elegantly spare writing for piano by Tristan Parkes sets the mood in the first few moments. He was musical director for both the Beijing and London Olympic Games and his fine score is consistently satisfying. New to the show is the impressive Blake Kubena as both Jekyll and Hyde. He was well-cast, both physically and for his nuanced interpretation. He cuts quite a thrilling dash as the ‘twisted’ scientist who transforms in a moment into the utterly amoral Hyde. The story’s black and white moral core is plain.

Zach Lee nicely reprised his role as lawyer Utterson. His ‘period’ clipped delivery and precise movements were shared by other supporting characters, in particular Ashley Sean-Cook as Lanyon who also has some touching scenes with Paige Round as his wife. She sang some delightful songs and like all the other members of the cast seemed to inhabit her several roles with conviction.

Jekyll’s Faustian pact must damn him forever. But will his friends be drawn in or abandon him as his life unravels? That is the heart of this exciting and recommended story.



Reviewed by David Woodward

Photography by Alex Harvey-Brown


The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell.

Click here for planned tour dates for the show.


Last ten shows reviewed by David:
The Importance Of Being Earnest | ★★★★ | Watermill Theatre Newbury | May 2019
Assassins | ★★★★★ | Watermill Theatre Newbury | September 2019
The Mousetrap | ★★★★ | Theatre Royal Windsor | October 2019
The Nutcracker | ★★★★ | Theatre Royal Windsor | November 2019
What’s In A Name? | ★★★★ | Theatre Royal Windsor | November 2019
Ten Times Table | ★★★★ | Theatre Royal Windsor | January 2020
Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story | ★★★★ | Theatre Royal Windsor | February 2020
The Last Temptation Of Boris Johnson | ★★★½ | Theatre Royal Windsor | February 2020
The Black Veil | ★★★ | Theatre Royal Windsor | March 2020
The Wicker Husband | ★★★★★ | Watermill Theatre Newbury | March 2020


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Treasure Island

Treasure Island


Barbican Theatre Plymouth

Treasure Island

Treasure Island

 Barbican Theatre at Plymouth Athenaeum

Reviewed – 15th December 2019



“A perfect Christmas show for those who don’t do panto, Le Navet Bete foregoes festive sentiment, to deliver an uplifting message”


A story of false friends and greedy pirates, Treasure Island may not seem like the obvious choice for a Christmas story, but Le Navet Bete’s new show, written and directed by John Nicholson aims to convert you.

Based on the Robert Louis Stevenson novel, the show blends physical comedy with classic story-telling. In this reboot of the treasure-hunting story, Jim Hawkins (played by Nick Bunt) heads out on a dangerous adventure when former sailor Billy Bones arrives at the family’s inn, the Admiral Benbow, and starts telling him stories about a notorious Captain Flint.

Billy, former first mate to Flint, has inherited his treasure map. During a fight at the inn, Bones unexpectedly dies. On going through the sailor’s belongings, Hawkins finds the map, stitched safe in the lining of a trunk.

A ship and crew are amassed, along with Long John Silver (Al Dunn) as the ship’s cook. With the crew and map, Hawkins sets sail. As their journey begins, Hawkins befriends Silver. Despite growing close to the boy, Silver may not be telling Hawkins the whole truth.

Hawkins not only learns about the world, he works out how to negotiate his way through it. Treasure Island may seem like Boys’ Own territory, but the production’s ideas of loyalty, trust and friendship have the capacity to reach out to everyone.

These ideas also resonate more sharply with us because they seem, at first, to be old-fashioned. We smile at Jim trusting an old rogue – it’s when the boy starts trusting himself, that Stevenson has us. As Hawkins grows in confidence, and begins to outwit those with their eye on the treasure, Le Navet Bete dare us to remain impartial. We’re all Team Hawkins by the interval’s dramatic cliffhanger.

The show also fills in the gaps around the Jim Hawkins / Long John Silver narrative. The back story – and who else might have a stake in the treasure – is fleshed out in more detail. Le Navet Bete remind us that when it comes to classics, we may not know them as well as we think we do. The production gives Stevenson’s story an edge of apprehension. We are never quite sure what is going to happen next.

Of course, the piece has great fun with Stevenson’s book. There’s some wonderful design elements from Fi Russell  and some fitting music from Peter Coyte. Long John Silver’s parrot gets a 21st century rebrand; to redress the gender balance, a seductive mermaid is introduced (Matt Freeman). In ratcheting up the tension, you may leave the show never wanting to eat a fish finger again.

Le Navet Bete’s strength is in finding stories that match their collaborative spirit. With Treasure Island, Dunn, Bunt, Freeman and fourth member of the cast Dan Bianchi  have created a version of Stevenson’s novel that not only entertains, it refreshes the narrative for a modern audience. It does equal service to Stevenson and to those who may be coming to the story for the first time. Ideal for children who love an adventure, Treasure Island is a great alternative to the usual pantomime. Pirates instead of genies; mermaids instead of princesses. Dive into another world this Christmas – there’s treasure to be found.

A perfect Christmas show for those who don’t do panto, Le Navet Bete foregoes festive sentiment, to deliver an uplifting message from Stevenson himself. Adventure, however you determine it, proves the real reward.


Reviewed by Helen Tope

Photography by Matt Austin


Treasure Island

 Barbican Theatre at Plymouth Athenaeum until 5th January


Previously reviewed by Helen:
One Under | ★★★★ | October 2019


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