by Laura Ferguson
The play incorporated some very successful use of film to help narrate the story, which broke up the dialogue and allowed for dream sequences and historical flashbacks. Most of these worked very well, but there were a couple of moments where the screen was too dark to see much, which caused a bit of confusion. This could have been to align the audience with how the protagonist felt whose own bewilderment at his condition permeates much of the first act.
The protagonist, Harper Jackwill (played by James Bayliss), slowly transitions from being unconscious of his transformations to fully conscious and the eventual unveiling of Mr. Hyde was just as dread-inducing as I hoped. Jett Ranchhod who played Hyde did his job magnificently, capturing the essence of a corrupt and evil being, purely self-serving and bent on destruction. Ranchhod also choreographed the impressive fight scenes that brought the reality of Mr. Hyde to life.
When the audience first gets to see Mr. Hyde, I noticed there were quite a few people leaning forward in anticipation, a tense and suspenseful mood pervaded the stage, which eked into those of us present for the opening night. This apprehensive atmosphere continued into the second half when the drama continued to build, answering questions the first half brought up and yet leaving enough mystery to keep us entertained right until the end of the last scene.
The lighting of the play was definitely a highlight. The designer of these effects, Devon Nuku, did a brilliant job of creating a chiaroscuro effect to illuminate the duality of Harper/Hyde’s nature. Cleverly, he also used these techniques to showcase the lesser dualities present in the other characters, subtly pointing out that it is present in everyone.
The character of Elijah (played by Martin Tidy) is one who showed these two halves of his personality. Elijah is a part of a secret society bent on bringing down Hyde, which is called Utterson Corp. and it would be remiss not to mention this part of the play. The addition of the four characters that made up this organisation made for added drama and an interesting new angle to explore, the details of which I will leave you to discover for yourself.
While I largely enjoyed this production, there were a few things that logically didn’t make sense. For example, someone who works in a hospital should know to call an ambulance when someone is in need of medical attention, and CCTV cannot zoom in, no matter what CSI says. I also found the intense reactions a bit overzealous at times. There was a lot of shouting, and sometimes the emotionality got a bit lost because of this, making me lose focus of what the scene was about. However, this observation did not hinder the intrigue I felt at this story, which is quite remarkable and caused me to feel a strong desire to see a film version of it.
HYDE is an interesting new production by Mirrored Faces with its take on an old tale that is worth seeing if you like suspense and mystery with references to your favourite gothic characters. It is playing at The Gryphon Theatre from the 27th of July to the 6th of August at 8pm.
Tickets can be found at https://www.iticket.co.nz/events/2016/jul/hyde or at The Gryphon Theatre.