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Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Buxton 2012 arrow The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll
Published on Monday, 16 July 2012

4 starsUnderground Venues, Theatre
15, 17, 18 Jul, 6:00pm-7:00pm; 21 Jul, 3:00pm-4:00pm
Reviewed by Ian Hamilton

Uproot Theatre Company’s ambitious project to stage a one-man version of Stevenson’s famous novella yielded interesting results, in a thought-provoking play written by Richard Wiseman with a mesmerising performance by Jamie Robertson.

We meet the eponymous doctor apparently coming to the end of his life, as he staggers on-stage to imbibe an unpleasant looking potion.  The set is sparse; an upturned chair and papers strewn everywhere give a sign of his inward chaos, as he gazes upon his shambolic reflection in a mirror.

The question immediately begs itself: what of his infamous other half, Mr Hyde?  Robertson adeptly renders the issue redundant, by assuming both roles – now the jumpy, on-edge doctor sporting a nervous smile, now his darker persona, breathing heavily with a wolf-like scowl.  He reminisces about his past, succinctly bringing together the contrasting natures of his twin personae – Hyde’s lust for pleasure (and blood) compared with Jekyll’s head held high – and effectively portrays the duplicity of this life.  Speaking slowly and deliberately, his regular pauses highlight the tension, and his piercing gaze seems to look straight through the audience.

We see little Science actually being conducted, but are in no doubt as to when the personality transformations occur.  A one-man show is by definition somewhat static, given the limited opportunities for action, but Robertson’s presence is spellbinding and he fully captures our imagination.  The set is very bare, with only the ever-present mirror gloomily holding centre-stage, and the sparse musical accompaniment highlights the tension – although there is no need for this in the play’s one act of genuinely chilling violence.

The writing effectively portrays the nature of split personality and its contradictions – we learn that Jekyll/Hyde longs to be caught, and is glad when he is found out – as well as its theme of all-consuming addiction.  As the play says, the powers of Hyde grow with the sickness and addiction of Jekyll, and the rendition of the last minutes of his life is genuinely moving.

Wiseman’s writing is always thought-provoking, and Robertson’s performance keeps this small audience rapt for an hour.  I recommend that you join them for one of the three remaining shows here.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Buxton 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.