Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, has returned to Edinburgh in none other than the King’s Theatre. Adapted by David Edgar and directed by Kate Saxton, a modern-day twist helps this production attempt to inspire the terror that the novella always spurred in its readers.
Phil Daniels does a good job at playing both of Stevenson’s titular characters, offering a good distinction between them. Such contrast comes in Hyde’s accent – a perhaps predictable but thick Glaswegian one, which may feel confusing to some given the adaptation is set in London. As for Dr Jekyll, his accent is from anywhere but the west of Scotland, as it does a definitive tour of the country – changing at every appearance. Despite this lack of consistency, Daniels’ alternation between the two personalities is masterful: it is clear why he has past RSC and National Theatre credits to his name
Edgar’s retelling includes three female characters who are missing from the original – Katherine, Jekyll’s sister, Annie and a third, spectral character who comes on to the bridge to provide musical interludes between scenes. Grace Hogg-Robinson as Annie does a very good job of portraying a rather helpless maid in Victorian times. She seems to also be the only person who figures out that Jekyll and Hyde are one and the same person: the reason for such privilege is never explained. Despite this attempt to add gender diversity, it is unclear what these female figures add to the storyline, other to emphasise the sordidness of the gender-specific crimes depicted on stage.
What lets down this production the most is the staging. Despite an innovative attempt to create the illusion of an upper floor in house through a bridge-like structure, the raised platform leaves those seated towards the back with an incredibly-restricted view.
Further cracks begin to show when we consider what the production set out to achieve. The darkness that characterised the original twisted tale is sorely missing from this production, and in its place is a dismal attempt at humour. Although there is strong acting brought by the key players in this production, a lacklustre script and awkward staging make this tale of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde one best left alone.