The Southwark Playhouse could never be accused of failing to deliver a variety of shows, whether it be hard-hitting drama, flighty musicals, death-defying theatre or cabaret in the past year alone (before and after its move). Jekyll and Hyde, a dark and sometimes funny collaborative piece, is as other-worldly as you could wish for.
Here, Jonathan Holloway portrays a couple of dandy lads back in the Victorian days, painted like dolls, enjoying the lark and humour that comes with unraveling of the gruesome murder committed by a mysterious and infamous "Hyde". One of these chaps soon finds his sanity dissolving into a rather destructive relationship with the love lady Doctor Tajemnica Jekyll, who might not be all she seems...
Elliott Rennie, creepily comfortable as the disturbed and musical St John, tells the story in the form of a novella he has in his possession to the proud sordid-book-publisher Worsfield (Joel Phillimore, founding member of Flipping the Bird – one of the collaborating companies). The duo play a variety of instruments and decorate moments with wordless song whilst the rest of the cast portray the action, freezing as required for an amusing side-note of bewilderment here and there.
Michael Edwards as the unfortunate Henry Utterson is both charming and believably naïve, great to watch as he swings from uptight to crazy with a swift punch from his beloved. Cristina Catalina provided a stern, distant and almost mournful European female Jekyll , taking a well known character and remoulding it with the script.
The set takes you from window to window with a clever collaboration with lighting. Joanna Scotcher, the designer, forms a wall with matted windows to provide a backdrop to any scene which works closely with Joshua Carr's lighting, which either drew attention to a detail or withdrew it. The uncovered side lights created old fashioned shadows and movement that almost brought to mind a vaudeville-style performance – quite challenging in the limited space, I would think.
It's a bizarre piece, and certainly fun at times (never have I been so enthralled by a man tunefully blowing a raspberry through his finger – mind you there's no reason I should have before now...) but at times it seemed a little stretched with a hint of trying too hard. As Jekyll's secret is revealed you find yourself more distracted by props rather than focusing on the beautifully shocking script.
This twisted theatrical cabaret is fun to watch and not easy to forget for it's sinister complexities... Enjoy it.