Jekyll and Hyde
- Becki Crossley
- 12 August 2019
Brilliant concoction of audience participation and inventive storytelling
Five eyeliner-clad and glamorously brash performers greet the audience as they enter Assembly's Piccolo theatre. The show doesn't start for five minutes, but these interactions – part friendly, part interrogative – cement a relationship between the audience and performers that proves essential to the success of this high-octane retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novella.
This is no straight-forward adaptation; storytelling, physical comedy, sound effects and pop numbers all play a part. As Jekyll – an Oxfam-shopping, recycling-happy cyclist – begins to notice his evil compulsions taking over, Hyde is introduced as his wicked and seductive counterpart. Hyde is neatly personified by any of the cast who quickly put on a top hat with matted hair attached.
Hyde's evil progression, from stripclub lover to murderer, is played out in a delightfully roundabout fashion. The plot takes a backseat in parts, as performers continuously interrupt the show to scuttle about the pews drawing out subplots from audience members they met earlier. Viewers take on roles of the weather, love interests, police officers and at one point a woman enthusiastically steps into the shoes of a gunned accomplice.
Despite all the giddiness, the group demonstrate complete control of this richly textured performance. A convincing villain is created with only a hat, slick light, sound effects and a low-pitched microphone. This ingenious use of props and production is a strong point of the piece – everything is artfully curated to manipulate moods and moments.
Though billed as an afternoon show, Jekyll and Hyde has the atmosphere of a roaring party where anything could happen. The performers maintain high levels of wit and charm throughout and the gleeful piece ends with a powerful cover of Billie Eilish's 'Bad Guy'.
Assembly George Square Gardens, until 26 Aug (not 19), 3pm, £12–£13 (£11–£12).