There are several adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at this year’s festival – a musical version, a comedy version, a musical comedy version, and this. Hyde and Seek is Flat Packed Theatre’s take on the classic Victorian horror story, a solo show in which performer Michael Tonkin-Jones doesn’t just play all the characters, he cues the lights and sound as well.
Ben Oldfield’s script tells the tale, refreshingly, from the perspective of a stage door manager at a West End Theatre, a place frequented by the upright scientist Henry Jekyll and later his dastardly alter ego Mr Hyde.
In a hit-and-miss hotchpotch of mime, direct address, vaudevillian show tunes, silhouette puppetry and ventriloquism, Tonkin-Jones cobbles together Stevenson’s famous fable about split personalities into something resembling familiarity.
The fact that he’s doing everything – lighting, sound and all – himself as he performs is undoubtedly impressive, but it doesn’t make for the slickest, smoothest show. Nor is he versatile enough to fill the seven different roles demanded of him. Too many characters – Jekyll, Hyde, the stage doorman Albert, a police detective – are too similar, at times almost indistinguishable. Deeper contemplation of Stevenson’s central theme is missing too. Ultimately, an awkward adaptation.