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Published on Wednesday, 27 July 2011

3 stars

Underground Venues - Pauper's Pit
17 Jul, 4:45pm-5:45pm; 20, 22-23 Jul, 7:45pm-8:45pm; 21 Jul, 10:30pm-11:30pm
Reviewed by Alice de Cent

Thunder Road Theatre explore of the duality of human nature in Hyde - their atmospheric adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale. The play follows the lawyer Mr. Utterson, as he investigates the sinister Mr. Hyde, who seems to have a strange and menacing hold on his friend Dr. Jekyll.

Set in Edinburgh and London, Hyde evokes the dark, Victorian setting excellently. The Butler – played sensitively by Christopher Ward – sets the tone for the show with his opening speech, delivered with just the right amount of suspense and danger. Alex Moran is most convincing as the title character Hyde, making the most of the melodramatic nature of the tale. The actors are well-supported by some ominous lighting and claustrophobic staging, which serves to build the tension early on in the piece, which unfortunately wanes a little as the story evolves.

The two actors play eight roles between them, denoting each character with some slick costume changes and multiple accents. While some work could be done to improve the consistency of the dialect work, there remains the more fundamental problem that the central premise of Jekyll’s metamorphosis into Hyde is somewhat undermined by the constant transformations required of the two actors throughout the play.

Polis Loizou's script is pleasingly poetic, and could perhaps do with a touch more breathing room, so the subtleties of the language aren’t lost. The more frenetic scenes – particularly the fight sequences – could be tightened, to match up to the more compelling moments of stillness earlier in the piece.

Hyde is a promising retelling of Stevenson’s tale, establishing a delightfully eerie setting early on. The show could benefit from further development in order to meet the demands of the script, and to ensure the audience is fully engaged by the onstage action.  As it stands, though, it’s an athletic piece of storytelling and an enjoyably creepy take on this classic story. 

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