After the roaring success of Don Juan in 2016, theatre company Slightly Isolated Dog present the twisted story of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The cast give audiences no time to ease into the fun ahead, instead they’re already waiting outside the theatre ready to introduce themselves and lavish compliments upon everyone they see. Various frivolous hats and accessories are given out to selected people as they take their seats. The atmosphere is partylike and playful, a far cry from what you would expect from a Victorian classic. In fact, once the company launches into the show’s introduction it’s easy to forget why you’re there, having been swept up in the festivities.
This is no traditional telling of Jekyll and Hyde, but instead, a fast paced, laugh-a-minute, interactive storytelling that serves up comedy and frivolity on a platter. The company are French, complete with exaggerated accents and all the typical stereotypical traits: fashionable, sassy, self-assured and emotive. Why are they French? This is never really explained yet it’s clear to see that it suits the camp and bawdy comedy style they are after. The original story is told whilst weaving in and out some of the cast members own personal dramas, such as Hayley Sproull’s character’s ongoing debt, Jonathan Price’s lost love (who just so happens to be in the audience), and of course, the darkness within that we ALL deal with – but don’t worry because “we push it down”.
In amongst the chaos of five caricatures and plenty of audience interaction is an array of creative special effects, lighting and sound design. Hats off to the brains behind some of the visual effects, especially the creeping fog created by metres of tulle that covers the audience. These whimsical details add dimension to the storytelling and show a keen eye for visual imagery.
The cast commit to the bit and carry the show through the entire 75 minutes without ever dropping a beat. Even despite some technical difficulties on opening night, the cast push on through with professionalism and a splash of humour at the situation. Whilst the entire cast deserve praise for their cohesive ensemble, a stand out performance comes from Andrew Paterson who stalks his way around the stage with confidence that demands audience attention and affection.
This retelling doesn’t bring anything life changing to the table about the darkness within, but creates a turbulent playground out of the Basement theatre that is a joy to experience. If you’re looking for an evening full of laughter and preposterous hijinks then Slightly Isolated Dog have the show for you.