Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde review at Rose Theatre – ‘an unimaginative staging’

Phil Daniels in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at Rose Theatre, Kingston. Photo: Mark Douet Phil Daniels in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at Rose Theatre, Kingston. Photo: Mark Douet
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Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde caused a minor sensation in its day.

Plenty of stage and screen adaptations followed, many of which took liberties with the gothic horror elements but helped to entrench the story into the modern psyche.

David Edgar’s adaptation follows the original closely, while incorporating named female characters where initially there were none. It’s an excessively verbose version, labouring the psychological aspects of the story. It feels at times like a particularly dull sermon. The female characters are little more than victims, although Polly Frame as Jekyll’s sister Katherine brings depth and colour to the doctor’s destructive relationship with his father.

As Jekyll, Phil Daniels (occasionally) lends a gentle Scottish burr to the role but his delivery contains remarkably little nuance. His transmogrification into the vicious Mr Hyde is achieved by adopting a broad Glaswegian accent – his Hyde resembles Rab C Nesbitt in a top hat and cloak. There is no physical change, which feels a missed opportunity to inject a little theatricality into the piece.

Simon Higlett’s composite set is a bundle of Victorian cliches that works fairly well to provide the multiple interior and exterior settings. But director Kate Saxon brings little flair or vision to this remarkably unexciting production.

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Unimaginative and dull staging of Robert Louis Stevenson's novella