Jekyll & Hyde

Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, charting the dual-natured existence of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, is well-trodden turf, having seen adaptations aplenty on television, radio, film and, of course, stage. Flipping the Bird, then, took on a somewhat masochistic challenge in bringing it up to the Fringe. Indeed, they did well.

Between the costumes and the backdrop, we are firmly planted on the gothic streets of Victorian England. We sit in the company of two men whose names have become an illegible scrawl in my notebook owing to the atmospheric darkness of the show and who watch with the same avidity as the audience themselves as the story comes to life before them. The style of acting belongs to the gothic macabre without descending into silliness: every word is placed with quiet emphasis, every moment accentuated to great ambient effect. The two stare with an inexorable intentness at the characters before them, capturing in turn the melodramatic horror inherent in the Victorian novel from which this piece was drawn.

This a script that embraces subtlety and crescendo. Jonathan Holloway’s ear for tone is intuitive and thoughtful: there is a rhythmic staccato to the piece that pays homage to the conventions of its literary precursors, those that depict an interiorised conflict between social composure and the suppression of one’s human nature. In avoiding the basic good-bad divide to which the dichotomy between animal instinct and social adherence may so easily be reduced, Holloway reveals an acute intelligence and a great respect for a work from which he asks, not demands the right, to adapt in an innovative way.

There is an attention to detail that far exceeds the immediately noticeable. The lighting design, primarily, is a demonstration of technical prowess on a level exceeding that of anything else I have seen at the Fringe. Faces, painted a spectral white, become gaunt skulls in the intersection of shadows and dim light: eyes become more expressive, cheekbones more prominent, lips more articulated. All the while, the cellist and his counterpart are thrown into shadow at the back of the stage, visibly attentive but hidden enough that the spare musical accompaniment doesn’t so much as play across the stage as creep out of the shadows.

There are moments where the line between pomposity of the characters and pomposity of the writing becomes blurred. Flipping the Bird know they’ve made a good piece of theatre here, but occasionally it ran the risk of becoming a little self-indulgent. Still, I would worry more about these specifics if the piece wasn’t strong enough and it most certainly is that.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

The Blurb

Fringe First-winning writer Jonathan Holloway returns with Jekyll & Hyde, a dark melodrama for a modern audience. Fusing live music, black comedy and grotesque cabaret, this late night show will leave you feeling titillated, tainted and unclean.

Most Popular See More

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Heathers The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

SIX

From £29.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets