If there is one thing that you need to know about Jekyll and Hyde it’s that there have been many adaptations of this story. Everything from musicals to a modern day “plastic surgeon” Jekyll, you think you have seen them all… until of course, you go and see Southwark Playhouse’s version.
As soon as you enter the space you are greeted with the dark and actually scary looking office of St John (Elliott Rennie). The smoke thickens, his dreary violin gears up, and you are immediately captivated by what is going on in front of you.
It takes the original title of The Strange Case Of… to new extremes. This reworking is very dark and gothic, and incredibly well thought out. The plot of having St. John reading the work to Worsfield (Joel Phillimore) is inspired, paying homage to the writer of Jekyll and Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson (Stevenson was famous for writing the story while housebound and high on drugs).
If you are a bit of prude, Jekyll and Hyde might not be one for you. It takes note of its Victorian Southwark setting, and makes sure not to leave out any nitty gritty details. But even if you are, try and go see it, mainly for the one big focal point of the play: Dr Jekyll is a woman, Tajemnica Jekyll to be exact. While all of the cast are absolutely fantastic, Cristina Catalina steals the show. It is always respected when an actor can play split personality, but few actors actually get it. Jekyll is essentially too evolved for her own good, and she expresses her hate for the strict manners put upon Victorian woman by taking things to extremes. Catalina’s stern, fearless performance makes it extra special.
But we can’t forget the rest of the cast either. Like the stage, the cast is small with only five actors taking the stage. Michael Edwards plays amazingly against Catalina’s Jekyll in a funny but sometimes heartbreaking character. Leo Wan is also great as Enfield, giving the show its most comedic and sinister moments. To quote Worsfield, “This story is emotionally exhausting” …but in a good way of course!
Jekyll and Hyde at Southwark Playhouse is definitely a one-of-a-kind experience. Director Jessica Edwards has taken Jonathan Holloway’s reworking and made it a theatrical moment that you will want to see again and again. This five-strong cast keep you captivated through out, despite the fact they have not got much to work with stage wise, and you will either be disgusted or giddy with delight as you leave.
Jekyll and Hyde is playing at Southwark Playhouse until 19 October 2013. For more information and tickets, see the Southwark Playhouse website.