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REVIEW: Jekyll and Hyde (Edinburgh Lyceum Theatre, Scottish Premier)

Updated: Jan 29

16 January 2024

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

⭐⭐⭐


Forbes Masson in Jekyll and Hyde, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh. Gary McNair. Reading Rep Theatre.

We're well into cold, dark, January now and I'm ready for some cold, dark theatre! Goodbye pantomimes and glitter; Hello moody, spooky thrills.


Fitting the bill perfectly for the chilly Scottish winter season is the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh's production of Reading Rep Theatre's Jekyll and Hyde.


Written by acclaimed Scottish playwright Gary McNair and based on the most famous of gothic horror tales 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' by Robert Louis Stevenson, this production not only brings Jekyll and Hyde back to Edinburgh, but in a feat of incredible casting, it brings renowned actor Forbes Masson back to the Royal Lyceum stage for the first time in 20 years.


Forbes Masson in Jekyll and Hyde, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh. Gary McNair. Reading Rep Theatre. Photo credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

Playing Utterson, a respected lawyer and friend of Dr Henry Jekyll, Forbes Masson is our sole performer and narrator. The one-man play sees Utterson investigate a series of murders and other unpleasant events that all involve a rather nasty man named 'Mr Hyde.' Utterson is surprised to find that the atrocities, and Mr Hyde himself, seem to have more than just a few links with his old friend Dr Jekyll. What could be going on I wonder?!


So famous is the lore of 'Jekyll and Hyde' that it has become everyday phraseology for someone with a dark side to their character. But no matter that we all know the outcome, this clever retelling still manages to entertain.


What works very well is the actor's interactions with the audience. From the outset, even before the auditorium lights have been dimmed, Utterson talks with audience and makes us feel involved. As his investigation unfolds, Utterson makes sure to bring the audience along with him as he confides his innermost thoughts and fears. Such is the skill of the writer, Gary McNair, and Director Michael Fentiman, that it is only later we realise just how clever they have been. (No spoilers here!)


Forbes Masson in Jekyll and Hyde, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh. Gary McNair. Reading Rep Theatre. Photo credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

'Jekyll and Hyde' is also surprisingly funny; I did not expect that! With McNair at the helm, perhaps I should have: his recent adaptation of Dickens 'Great Expectations' is a fine example of how successfully he can breathe modern humour into a classic story.


As clever and witty as this show is, a one-person stage play is always going to be a challenge: How difficult it is to hold an audience's attention with, what is in effect, a 70 minute monologue.


Masson's delivery is wonderful; he really is one of Scotland's finest actors. And the dramatic lighting attempts to keep the audience focused on the stage - Moments of blinding bright contrast with moments of uncertain, pitch black. But despite all that, the play doesn't build any real tension. For all the talk of the devil, and of Mr Hyde's evilness, there is very little to truly thrill or unsettle the audience.


Forbes Masson in Jekyll and Hyde, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh. Gary McNair. Reading Rep Theatre. Photo credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

Jekyll and Hyde is the most tech-forward production I've seen at the Lyceum. The 130 year old stage has been transformed with bright strip lights and strobes. The lighting design by Richard Howell is inspired, and the precise timing of the 'blink and you'll miss them' flashes throughout the show is masterfully done.


In conjunction with atmospheric sound design, Fentiman's sharp direction and Masson's astonishing talent and charisma, Jekyll and Hyde is a production well worth seeing. Gary McNair has a real talent for adapting well-loved tales without compromising on any of the core plot points. And you'll find a satisfying story packed in to the 75 minute run-time.


⭐⭐⭐


Jekyll & Hyde plays at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh from 13 - 27 January 2024


AGE: 12+

RUNNING TIME: 75 minutes, no interval

WARNING: This production contains strobe lighting effects and flashing lights.



📸 Production photos: Mihaela Bodlovic


💗 While you are here, why not check out which shows made it to my favourites of 2023



Forbes Masson in Jekyll and Hyde, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh. Gary McNair. Reading Rep Theatre. Photo credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

 

Jekyll & Hyde Cast 


Jekyll & Hyde - Forbes Masson 


Creative Team:


Writer - Gary McNair 

Director - Michael Fentiman 

Designer - Max Jones

Composer & Sound Designer - Richard Hammarton 

Producer - Hannah Roberts 

Producer - David Dey 

Costume Supervisor - Jessica Brettle 

Costume Maker - Suzanne Togneri 

Stage Manager - Marisa Ferguson 

Assistant Stage Manager - Jessica McIntosh 

Lighting Designer - Richard Howell 

Gaelic Language Support - Elspeth Turner 


 

Jekyll & Hyde Listings


Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

Sat 13 - Sat 27 January 2024


Perth Theatre

Wed 31 Jan - Sat 3 Feb 2024


Dundee Rep 

Wed 7 Feb - Sat 10 Feb 2024


Macrobert Arts Centre 

Thur 15 Feb - Sat 17 Feb 2024


Forbes Masson in Jekyll and Hyde, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh. Gary McNair. Reading Rep Theatre. Photo credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

REVIEW: Jekyll and Hyde (Scottish Premier). Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh. Cast: Forbes Masson. Written by Gary McNair. Reading Rep Theatre.


🎟️ Disclosure: I was invited to review this show and received a complimentary ticket in exchange. Whether I am invited or not has absolutely no impact on my reviews or star ratings.



📧 For media and review requests contact Lisa_InTheTheatre@outlook.com

📸 To see more pictures and videos follow @Lisa_InTheTheatre on Instagram


Lisa in the theatre. Scottish theatre reviewer. UK theatre blog. Glasgow Theatre. Edinburgh Theatre. Scotland theatre.

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