Search icon

Jekyll & Hyde review (Original Theatre Online)

[AD – PR invite*]


Original Theatre Online is a digital theatre platform that gives fans of the arts a chance to watch innovative productions from home. Last year I had the opportunity to review their filmed version of ‘The Interview’, fictionalising the events of Princess Diana and Martin Bashir’s televised conversation. This year the company commissioned a film version of Reading Rep Theatre’s ‘Jekyll & Hyde’, which was recently recorded at Dundee Rep Theatre. Presented in collaboration with the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, the pre-recorded play is now available to members via Original Theatre’s website and the general public from Friday 29th March. Gary McNair has adapted Robert Louis Stevenson’s renowned work into a 70 minute intense one-person retelling of the classic novel, starring Forbes Masson as Utterson.

Jekyll and Hyde Production Photo by Mihaela Bodlovic
© Mihaela Bodlovic

Initial thoughts

Stevenson’s narrative needs no introduction, with McNair adapting the source material into a fast-moving and enigmatic piece of theatre. With direction by Michael Fentiman, the play follows the same stream of consciousness format as the book and in doing so, leaves very little room for pause or reflection. Transitions are quick or almost non-existent between scenes, with Utterson powering through the material at pace and jarring cuts between camera positions. Even though the rapid structure is too much for me personally, there is no doubt that it creates an uneasy atmosphere on stage, which is incredibly appropriate for Jekyll & Hyde as a story. 

Jekyll and Hyde Production Photo by Mihaela Bodlovic
© Mihaela Bodlovic

Drama and tension

Much like the original work, this version of Jekyll & Hyde is dark, eery and set within the shadows of polite society. It uses a simplistic set, striking lighting design and a limited number of props in visualising the short tale, contributing to the overall chilling themes. Max Jones’ visual design enhances the enigma and atmosphere of the retelling, but it is Masson who is responsible for drawing you into the dark world of Jekyll and Hyde. Their acting is haunting, creating an underlying sense of mistrust on stage.

Jekyll and Hyde Production Photo by Mihaela Bodlovic
© Mihaela Bodlovic

Theatre on screen

Tristan McShepherd’s camera direction is inspired, adding drama and suspense to the storytelling. The close ups on Mr Utterson are vital in enticing the audience into the mysterious lives of these characters and also scrutinising the performer’s facial expressions. The zoomed in camera work is so strong that it overshadows any of the wider angle segments. When the cameras are drawn back, the empty and shadow-filled room makes Masson look like they are floating in a vast array of nothingness. It is the downside of capturing such a dark and simplistic piece on camera. I much preferred the intimate and more intrusive camera work.

Jekyll and Hyde Production Photo by Mihaela Bodlovic
© Mihaela Bodlovic

How to watch Jekyll & Hyde

This gritty and mysterious adaptation of the classic book is available to rent from Friday 29th March (48 hours for £5.99), or alternatively you can access the show now via a membership to Original Theatre Online (from £8.99 per month). The company has created a really engaging example of live theatre on film, with this stirring and intimate production. If you do go ahead and rent the film, I recommend watching it cinema-style at home. Richard Howell’s enigmatic lighting will have a far greater impact on a large screen.

Thanks for reading my blog today.

Love Kat xxxx

*I was given press access to Jekyll & Hyde in exchange for a review.



Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More theatre