JEKYLL AND HYDE
Chelmsford Theatre Workshop at the Old Court
Leonard H Caddy's wordy version of this familiar tale is rather as J B Priestley might have penned it – theology, morality, psychology discussed in a middle-class parlour, with occasional flashes of high drama. Fortunately, CTW have the confidence, and the accomplished cast, to bring it off.
“Deep inside each of us is the person we really are ,"...and it is Jekyll's ambition to explore that reality, experimenting on himself in a tiny laboratory just off his "man's room" a typical parlour nicely realised in this set design.
Jim Crozier was masterly as the doctor, and the devil buried within. His struggle to change, and change back, was chilling. His mien, demeanour, gait all altered before our eyes, so I felt that the mask, and the fumbling behind the table, were superfluous.
Many fine performances in support, including Richard Baylis as Lanyon and Roger Johnson as Jekyll's gentleman's gentleman. Caddy's play, like many other adaptations, introduces new female characters, perhaps to underline the Freudian subtext. Anna Jeary was excellent as naive Little Lottie, and Catherine Kenton gave an elegant, poised performance as the doctor's intended – a nice cameo too from Ruth Cramphorn as her opposite number, Hyde's doxy from the wrong side of the tracks.
The final moments, with Barry Taylor's Utterson off to burn the evidence, and Jekyll dead on the parlour floor, were movingly staged, leaving us to ponder what lies beneath, deep within us all.