Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr HydeJames Hyland triumphs in the one-man show, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella of the same title. This is chilling and hair-raising storytelling; as Mr Hyde, Hyland’s appearance is as grotesque and loathsome as the violent crimes his character commits. In stark and clear contrast as the more refined and educated Dr Jekyll, Hyland is authoritative and retains the same level of power, intensity and conviction in his outing of his alter-ego’s atrocities. Both of Hyland’s characters are on a par with each other; strong in physicality and with distinct voice work, his array of talent is evident throughout this riveting adaptation. After an hour of well-paced, sharp performance, the result is an aptly unnerving conclusion to the tale. However, it is not just as Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde that Hyland shines, as he fills in for all manner of characters, including a promiscuous old lady, he brings a mischievous air to the piece that renders the story all the more unsettling.

Brother Wolf and Harrogate Theatre’s production of this well-known exploration into the limits of the human psyche is both compelling and repulsive at the same time. The carefully planned adaptation, also by Hyland, builds rapidly to its dramatic conclusion. We are enticed by an assumingly trustworthy and well-informed Jekyll into this dark and gloomy tale where we find ourselves disgusted by Hyde’s corrupt and sinful deeds. Nonetheless, Hyland’s embodiment of a decrepit and animalistic Hyde urges us not to look away, and the effect is that we feel somewhat coerced into enjoying this elaborate display of immorality.

Phil Lowe’s set design is simply yet effective. A solitary lectern stands centre stage for the majority of the performance, ideal for Dr Jekyll to engage directly with the audience. It symbolises a knowledgeable, and with that trustworthy, Dr Jekyll, and is instrumental in luring us in to his tale. With a mere tilt and swivel of the lectern it is transformed to serve as a bench or table. It is a clever design which allows Hyland to progress the story from scene to scene with ease, whilst ensuring that the focus throughout remains on the unfolding events.

Hyland is so versatile in this production that it is hard to imagine a more excellent fit for the roles of Jekyll and Hyde to provide a gripping retelling of this powerful tale. Sophisticated and sharp, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is not a production to be missed.

Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is currently touring. For more information and tickets, see the Brother Wolf website.