We open to, well… darkness. Darkness and a monologue. Setting the tone and feel for this stormy and stunning performance of a modern and incredible adaptation of Jekyll & Hyde. Allowing her voice to fill our minds, her words to spike intended anxieties of what’s to come and her decibels to fill the room. And then, we have light. Met with a Victorian feel, props staged around a central desk, costumes chosen to tie it all together and bring us right into the Victorian era, with an air of the madness to follow. Most of us will be familiar with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Jekyll, a kind and respected doctor with repressed evil urges wanting to hide them so desperately that he develops a serum that he believes will compartmentalise his dark side. Instead, transforming into Hyde, the mental and physical manifestation of all his evil and suppressed urges. His dark side. Only now, we see it as her dark side, her urges, her powerful performance. JD Henshaw’s writing and Direction, coupled with the perfectly cast star of this one woman show, Heather-Rose Andrews makes this a must watch for any Jekyll fans, Hyde fans, or fans of pure theatrical brilliance.
Every single detail was thought of to bring all of this together. Not one piece of this puzzle was lost. The script, so thoughtfully and beautifully written, speaking as Jekyll would have articulated herself fitting the time period this was set in, the costume, the stage props, the method of study Jekyll made Hyde undertake to “fit in” with society and of course, the lighting. The lighting was a huge player in switching scenes, switching characters and forcefully causing the audience to switch experiences, our emotions were hung by strings and used as puppets with Heather-Rose Andrews as our puppeteer, moving us in any direction she pleased. She challenged her mind to take on the depth of the monster that is Hyde and that energy was transformed through her body, her actions and the look in her eyes.
The language flows effortlessly in this piece, and the switch between Jekyll and Hyde is seen instantly and seamlessly, even before words are even spoken. Andrews takes on both characters as if this is the only life she has ever known. While Jekyll carries a confidence and cool tone, the knowing of a woman with a plan, a plan she believes she has taken all the correct steps to succeed. Hyde shares some moments which are haunting, bone chilling and oozing with horrific madness. Hyde is graphic, Hyde is loud and Hyde demands to be felt. Andrews leaves no choice other than for you to be present with her, through her screams, her shakes and her extended stares, there is nowhere to hide from all that is Hyde.
One scene in particular stays with me. Her metamorphosis. I have never seen a metamorphosis quite like this one, such a profound and true act of physical theatre, throwing herself to the floor, on the table, her blood curdling screams, the change of her face, the shake of her body – and it never felt like it was overdone, always the perfect amount. Andrews was just as much Jekyll as she was Hyde, as she was Andrews. The captivated and obsessed Doctor vs the reckless and mad beast.
This unbelievable piece of theatre is captivating through every single moment. There is so much to sink your teeth into, so many horrifying emotions to be felt. Andrews didn’t just hold the audience’s attention, she had us wrapped around her finger and we went with her everywhere she wished to take us. Andrews is a performer that deserves to be seen and JD Henshaw’s writing follows twists and turns that beg to be understood, and when you really think you know where it will go, you are met with an unfolding that reminds you of the intellect that is laced through this show “after all, who do you think you’re talking to?”
Recommended Drink: Sit down with a sweet poison cocktail – a concoction of coconut rum, blue Curacao, rum and pineapple juice – as appealing as Henshaw’s writing and as impactful as Andrews performance.
Performances of Jekyll & Hyde: A One Woman Show have now concluded at Prague Fringe. Keep up with the company online for future showings.