Review of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at Scarborough's Stephen Joseph - macabre twists in new inventive adaptation of Stevenson's Gothic tale

Purists be afraid, be very afraid of Nick Lane’s adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde for Blackeyed Theatre.

Friday, 1st October 2021, 11:06 am
Updated Saturday, 2nd October 2021, 12:16 am
Blake Kubena transforms into Hyde in the stage version of Robert Louis Stevenson classic story
Blake Kubena transforms into Hyde in the stage version of Robert Louis Stevenson classic story

The play stopped for a three-day stint at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough before heading off across the country.

It has all the trademarks of Mr Lane’s – famed for his magical Christmas productions at the Stephen Joseph – imaginative and inventive stagings.

The book is unarguably a masculine beast – so one of Lane’s surprises is a major female character, Eleanor, who drives Jekyll on in the same way Stevenson’s wife urged her husband to complete the novel.

Nick Lane has added a few surprises as he brings Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to the stage

She is the love interest and a further source of jealousy and friction between Jekyll and his friend fellow doctor Hastings Lanyon.

I am not saying it is a bad thing – I am a purist and love the book and feel most fiercely against the National Theatre’s female-twist on Stevenson’s Treasure Island (Have female pirates and a heroine, no problem – just don’t call it Treasure Island).

Digression and personal preference aside – the invention allows the production to throw even more light on the nature of love and passion, good versus evil, science versus nature, medical initiative and intervention – and allows for a marvellously macabre final twist.

Blackeyed Theatre specialises in production for schools – so the presentation is direct and is designed to illuminate the set-text.

The cast of the stage version of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

The company does this magnificently – with complete command of character and themes.

The cast of four are Blake Kubena as Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde while Zach Lee, Paige Round and Ashley Sean-Cook play all the other characters. It is an excellent ensemble piece with Kubena’s tortured, tormented, demonic Hyde at its centre.

His transformation from the earnest, sickly Jekyll to the vital, violent Hyde is done with acting skill rather than theatrical tricks – of which there are many.

The production has all the atmosphere of the Gothic, Victorian melodrama and is perfect for the winter nights that are fast drawing in.

So is the book – just saying – and wonder what Robert Louis Stevenson would do if he could have a say in an ‘author’s cut’.

The Strange Case of Mr Jekyll and Dr Hyde can be seen at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, on Friday October 1 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm on Saturday October 2.

Tickets, priced from £10, are available from the box office on 01723 370541 and online at https://www.sjt.uk.com/