A Retelling, "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde"

Private matters, a concerned old friend & the deteriorating will of a tortured mind...

A Retelling, "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde"

On Thursday June 20th in the quaint market town of Ludlow, at Oscars a spine tingling retelling of a classic Victorian novella by Robert Louis Stevenson was performed, transporting you onto the streets of Victorian London and into the house of a Dr Jekyll.

Countlessly readapted from novella to film to musical to stage and finally now to one man show. A Stratford Productions piece adapted, performed and staged by Mark Stratford “ THE STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL & MR HYDE ”

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Let’s start with the synopsis, it is the same on every review I have seen so I thought I would keep up the tradition!

First published in 1886, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a mystery tale about the inexorable conflict between good and evil.

In this faithful adaptation Stevenson’s gripping narrative is brought vividly to life through a combination of powerful story-telling and masterful character creation.

Gabriel John Utterson is Henry Jekyll’s lawyer and most trusted friend. Deeply concerned by a strange clause in his friend’s will, Utterson feels compelled to investigate the sinister Edward Hyde – Jekyll’s unlikely protégé.

Convinced that Jekyll and Hyde’s relationship is founded on blackmail, Utterson embarks on a quest to learn more, but – as he does so – he finds the truth to be far worse than he could have ever imagined…

“destroys the balance of my soul” - Quote from the show

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From Stratford's embodiment of the different characters from this performance I drew these conclusions about  “the accursed man” known as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Dr Jekyll in my opinion was a passionate man of science who revelled in the glory of new discoveries and being ahead of his peers. He was a disciplined and determined individual who tried to rectify his mistakes however in a moment of mental weakness, they caught up to him. He becomes a shell of who he once was, cast into disarray, tortured and ashamed by the acts of his other half and himself, as well appalled and revolted for revelling in the actions his other half commits. 

On the other hand I believe, Mr Hyde was a pitiful and unfortunate creature for under the circumstances of which he was ‘awoken’. Though I do not sympathise with him for the actions he took, indulging in gleeful murder and unspeakable malicious atrocities, I do sympathise with his instinctive fear of the gallows and how lonely and frightened he became once he realised Jekyll wouldn’t be around for much longer to keep him from them. A Truly tragic existence. “terrified, fearful of the gallows”

By the end of the performance my opinions on Dr Henry Jekyll and Mr Edward Hyde was that they were two sides of the same coin, both fearful of each other, prideful in their respective “work” and both were individually pitiful existences. Together as one they were a mad man driven by passion and purpose suffering from a tragic end because of an experiment gone awry. Victims for the sake of scientific discovery. They were only human.

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From a technical point of view, I am personally greatly inspired by Stratford’s theatrical range, his ability to play a wide variety of characters convincingly. It is truly mystifying how when equipped with a minimal amount of stage props, a single suit and cane he materialises whole characters with backstories and depth right before your eyes, flitting between them fluidly and sequentially. From Stratford’s masterful interpretation, you do not need to be told how a character felt, you could visually see it. All of the inner workings of the respective minds of the different characters and what they were feeling: Turmoil, Anguish, Relief, Glee. You saw them all.

 Stratford's ability to control his stage presence, facial features and movements when flitting between characters is truly a sight to see. Not once did I get confused who was who despite all the characters being played by a singular man. 

I also applaud Stratford's stagecraft, his use of levels, lighting and movement to create distinction between different scenes and differentiate between the present and flashbacks of memories was something to be admired.

“a truly amazing performance”,   “he's quite the talent” - Audience Members

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In conclusion, Mark Stratford’s adaptation of Jekyll and Hyde is perfect to watch even if you have no prior knowledge of the book at all, I certainly didn’t! Stratford has my kudos and I hope he continues his phenomenal work and reaches more audiences around the UK and beyond...

One thing that has stuck out to me during the fringe festival is that talent cannot be faked and all the performances I have been to have amazing talents and astounding performances. Even if you cannot see this specific performance I would recommend going to any of the other Fringe Festival Performances or just performances at your local theatres. These experiences are irreplaceable and quite literally once in a lifetime, as no performance is exactly the same as the last!

                                                                       o0o

Duration: 90 mins (with interval)

Age Guide: 12+

For further information visit: https://www.stratfordproductions.co.uk/about 

“The creation of these shows has been a labour of love for me and I feel passionate about telling these fascinating stories to as many people in different places as I can.” - Mark Stratford

Header Image Credit: Dan Bridge, Ludlow Fringe & Stratford Productions

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Primrose Jarvis

Primrose Jarvis

Just another human bean finding their way through the valleys of life.

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1 Comments

  • Judy McFall

    On 27 June 2024, 19:43 Judy McFall commented:

    This sounds like a remarkable performance - truly inspiring!

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