Review: Jekyll & Hyde at Assembly George Square

If you don’t like audience participation, Jekyll & Hyde isn’t for you. This mad-cap production by New Zealand company A Slightly Isolated Dog relies heavily on contributions from audience members. It’s camp, it’s silly and it’s all a bit inexplicable. Very loosely framed around Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, it’s an hour of fun vignettes and passable jokes. 

Five actors take turns performing the villainous Mr Hyde, alter ego of the jovial Dr Jekyll (Jonathan Price) – who also, for some reason, is called Philippe. Indeed, all the actors put on French accents, which is comedic if not creative. It’s a mostly family-friendly affair, besides some swearing and light lewdness. The mix of props, sound effects and hip hop songs certainly served to entertain and amuse the audience, but it all feels a bit meandering and pointless. 

There’s no real plot and a few of the jokes – for instance about Dr Jekyll having to ‘push down’ his inner darkness – are repeated to a tiring extent. A story originally set in Victorian London is transposed to 21st century Edinburgh, with a Kiwi cast putting on French accents. It’s enough to make you scratch your head: And that’s before the English cricket team shows up!

The performers of A Slightly Isolated Dog – Susie Berry, Jack Buchanan, Andrew Paterson, Jonathan Price and Comfrey Sanders – are evidently talented, but they would perhaps be better served by an original story, not one unconvincingly drawn from the literary canon.

Jekyll & Hyde is on at Assembly George Square Piccolo from 01 – 26 August (not 19), 15:00

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