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Jekyll & Hyde

Kath Melbourne

Moody Hobart skies and the unsettling surrounds of a disused goods shed are a brilliant setting for a night of immersive, psychological Victorian horror.
Jekyll & Hyde

Photo credit: Amy Brown.

Please note: This review contains spoilers.

Writer Jessica Davies’ Jekyll & Hyde takes R.L Stevenson’s original novella and works with the narrative to explore female repression, morality, and psychological turning points. Her Jekyll is manipulative, sociopathic, and willing to use her sexuality as both ruse and weapon. We see a portrait of a repressed woman with a long-term illness and a deft ability to be able to control the face she shows to the world. At times, though, you long to understand more about the context of Jekyll’s illness and its origins.

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Loud Mouth’s Jekyll & Hyde is a great example of what excellent, unfunded, independent theatre can be. Born of ingenuity, built from the passion and commitment of its members, and blessed with the freedom to take risks and produce work that the collective believes in.

It also means that the artists involved need to find ways to express ideas that are both frugal and impactful. Maeve Mhairi Macgregor leads a team that makes brilliant use of the found space and finds ways to make it work well for them, such as using chalk to define the worlds of the piece, the characters’ body language and precision to indicate change, and the simple act of adjusting the light bulbs to shift us into the second half.

Focused performances from the entire cast draw us in. The attention to the small but important details such as the hold of gaze by the stern nurses, the scraping of charcoal on concrete, the stiffness of the men’s body language and the use of breath and eye contact by Bryony Geeves contribute to a slick piece of theatre.

The ominous presence of Jesse Dugan as Edward and the way in which his character is used to give us an insight into the inner life of Jekyll is clever. The real monster is inside, and we can see him as he paces, stalks, embraces and confides in Jekyll.

Loud Mouth Theatre has been a brilliant contributor to the Tasmanian theatre landscape, particularly through their support of female emerging and mid-career practitioners.

This is Loud Mouth’s last show. What comes next for the individual members of this company will be much anticipated.

4 stars

Jekyll & Hyde
Presented by Loud Mouth Theatre Company
Writer: Jessica Davies after R.L Stevenson
Director: Maeve Mhairi Macgregor
Design: Maeve Mhairi Macgregor
Lighting Design: Alexander Ramsey
Sound Design/Composition: Gareth Jones
Cast: Bryony Geeves, Jess Dugan, Benjamin Winckle, Sara Pensalfini, Bella Young, Ivano Del Pio

The Goods Shed, Hobart
9-25 November 2017

 
What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Kath Melbourne is a Tasmanian arts executive who has led multi art festivals, innovative government initiatives and produced large-scale dance, circus and theatre productions in Australia, Asia and Europe. She's worked in Aboriginal communities, outback towns and off the side of 20 storey buildings. Right now she's taking a well-earned year off, studying, gardening and reviewing for Arts Hub Australia. She does not tweet.

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