This new adaptation of Robert Louis Stephenson's classic novella about Dr. Henry Jekyll, the good guy, and, the other side of his personality, Mr. Hyde, the very bad guy, probes the reason why Dr. Jekyll would want to free the evil side of his nature from inside himself. Rather than keep this evil under control, he is anxious to unleash it fully and revel in the freedom it gives him to break out from his sexual repression and away from the moral straitjacket his father and wife represent.
Memories of the Spenser Tracy film seen as a kid invoke fear and dread at seeing his face change into that terrifying monster that was Hyde. How well would this production do in trying to portray this terrible transition?
Well, the answer is: pretty well, all things considered. Playwright Brandon Long has written a play which, though overly episodic, with some scenes of only a few minutes, and others, especially near the end, too long, clips along pretty well throughout. And who can resist seeing the good Doctor swallow all those different colored potions (what was in those different test tubes?). And, yes, some of the scenes were pure melodrama and others verged on Grand Guignol, but a good time was had by all.
Erik Bryan (Jekyll and Hyde) was a little too restrained as the Doctor but really took it way out very effectively as the evil Hyde. Pamela Nigro nicely portrayed Jekyll's staid Victorian wife. Redman Maxfield was appropriately stiff and starchy as Jekyll's friend, Utterson. But the scene- and show-stealer was Jessie Matrullo, whose young woman, prostitute and (especially) patient were well-differentiated little gems. Mark Constanzi as Inspector Newcommen, however, was miscast. Nice work by Abby Imber as psychoanalyst Dr. Hilda Klaussen, Lawrence Merritt (three roles), Marilyn Beck, and Gwendolyn Thorne. Also featured: Michael Walczak, Jeff Macauley, and Lynne M. Nonnenmacher.
Other credits: costumes, Christopher Glasgow; set, Anne Brahic; lighting, Anthony Costa. Waltz choreographer, Staci Cobb. Special mention: appropriately atmospheric, haunting and very effective original music by Roger Butterley and ... a splendid program!
Copyright 1996 Dudley Stone
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