The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is one of Robert Louis Stevenson's most popular novels. Following the strange occurences with the character/s Jekyll and Hyde, this tale explores the idea of good and evil, but within the possibility of "what if we really gave into a darker side of us that we hide from the world?" No boundaries, just raw emotions with seemingly no logic.
we couldn't help but watch despite wanting to turn away in horror
The approach that JD Henshaw took when writing and directing this one woman version of Jekyll and Hyde was one that was inspired by the main character Dr Jekyll. It focused on the outward and internal struggle within this character, in the hope that a different side of Jekyll could, under the instruction of recordings played back when in the form of Hyde, enable her alter ego Hyde to become just as accepted in society. With no other influences, all we focused on was what really happened behind closed doors as Jekyll tried in vain to make this impossible experiment a reality. The script was so beautifully written that it not only paid homage to Stevenson's original text, but took the psychological and physical changes that Jekyll underwent to another level. It was clear that a lot of detailed research had taken place about the time period Stevenson wrote in; from the words and settings of the study, to the lamp light, doctor's notebook and the costume our doctor would have worn to make this particular piece authentic.
But what brought this dream (or nightmare) to reality for Henshaw was the perfectly cast Heather-Rose Andrews, who took on this mammoth task of creating someone whom you could immediately class in a way as mad for even contemplating playing with science and medicine in this way, yet at the same time brave enough to go to the hellish depths of her soul to create Hyde. Her performance was mesmerising to watch, as she challenged her mind and body to create this monster. It was reminiscent of the BBC's period piece Gentleman Jack with very strong elements of the more recent Joachim Phoenix's Joker. The way she switched between calm logic in one moment, then a vulnerable, yet energetic psychotic state the next was subtle, but yet so sharp that it really differentiated and heightened the two characters or 'states' presented.
As her journey progressed, we got to see her physical changes in real time. Every single detail was so realistic in showing the excruciating pain that we couldn't help but watch despite wanting to turn away in horror. From every fist clench, her body being thrown to the floor and every painful jerk and twist, Andrews held the audience's attention. It seemed that with each transformation, the fine line between the conscious and unconscious mind became more of a blur, which took real skill from a performer like Andrews and needed to be seen to be believed. As her character aptly said, 'Who do you think you are talking to?'