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European Arts Company presents

 

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

William Hartley in Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde

 

by Robert Louis Stephenson

 

Directed and Adapted by Jonny Kemp

 

King’s Head Theatre

 

25 May - 6 June 2010

 

 

 

 

 

Couzens

A review by Alexandra Carey for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

European Arts Company brings us a fascinating, atmospheric and infamous story - a great story well told seems to be their aim from the start.

This is nicely introduced by the simple, if rather improbable, framing narrative involving the character of actor Richard Mansfield. Even if the conceit of being within a Victorian pub and telling this eerie Victorian story does feel more than a little artificial, it allows the company free reign to indulge in a great raft of delightful and self-conscious theatrical tricks. The fun and games involved in creating some of the scenes and minor characters were sone of the best aspects of this production, and Jekyll’s train journey to Scotland was the outstanding example. It was full of lovely touches, hilarious comedy, unexpected pictures and characters and dramatic action. I wished the same level of innovation had been sustained throughout the rather long and inevitably bitty narrative. Unfortunately it was hard for the small company to sustain momentum through some of the complex and very regular scene changes, which did detract from the surprise and pleasure in this clever use of set and staging.

The cast of four were a strong and engaging ensemble and William Hartley’s Jekyll/Hyde was really exceptional, showing astounding versatility and great energy as well as a delightful comic precision. The other three actors all did well, sustaining a number of characters with many quick changes; Arthur James in particular drew strong distinctions between a catalogue of lovely idiosyncratic characters.

The adaptation of such a well known story is always a tricky business and Jonny Kemp here focuses his attention on narrative development, making reference to the underlying psychological questions of the novel but avoiding labouring a point. Unfortunately the nature of the long meandering gothic style tale makes a tough job for translating into a smooth piece of theatre which can maintain the attention, and this challenge is partly met by the intervention of the sustained setting of the pub though it does still make for a very bitty production.

Nevertheless, the story is well told and the production harnesses it’s simple and enduring fascination to provide a good evening of entertainment with some truly wonderful moments.

L-r-Richard Latham, William Hartley and Arthur James in Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde

 

 

King’s Head
 115 Upper Street, London

Tues - Sat 7.30pm (matinees 3.30 Sat 5th June and Sundays)

Tickets: £15/£12.50

Box Office: www.kingsheadtheatre.org

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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