Sunday, April 3, 2016

Jekyll & Hyde

A Slightly Isolated Dog are putting on a production of Jekyll & Hyde at the moment at Circa Theatre. I’m vaguely aware of the story Strange Case Of Dr. Jekykll And Mr. Hyde, as it is more formally known – it involves potions and alter egos, but that’s about all I knew. Time to find out more.

But first, inevitably, dinner. One of our favourite restaurants, Muse On Allen, has moved to larger premises on Victoria Street and is now known as Muse Eatery And Bar. There’s been a notice in their window for the past month saying “Opening in March”. As I walked past it the other day the notice had been changed to “Opening 1st April”. Perfect! I booked a table for 5:30 and we went there straight after work.

The menu has changed a bit since their “On Allen” days, with more choice on the starters and an addition of pasta options. I had the beef croquette to start, followed by the lamb rump. Nicola opted for a tuna ceviche and prawn linguine. On the dessert menu, they had a dessert burger consisting of a brioche bun and chocolate “burger”, strawberry jelly “beetroot”, and a mango and coconut “egg”. How could I possibly resist?

Not a real burger
After dinner we walked along the waterfront to Circa Theatre, in time to be greeted by the cast. This is an audience participation show, and they were selecting their potential victims possible collaborators early. The production is very much in the modern style, with minimal set and props; a blonde wig (Dr. Jekyll) and black wig (Mr. Hyde) denoted who was playing the central characters, but this was not fixed on a specific actor – everyone played each character at some point (as also did several audience members, when co-opted to do so). All the actors were speaking in cod French accents, for reasons that were left unexplained. We were all issued with window frames and instructed in their use, to stay indoors when Mr. Hyde is stalking the streets of London…wait, no, that’s Courtenay Place. And what’s all this talk of cars? Yes, the setting has been moved to present-day Wellington. So what’s with the French accents?

The story (spoiler alert) is that Dr. Jekyll, a pillar of Victorian society, does good deeds. He has a dark side (dramatic music – heads turn), but he pushes it down, pushes it down. The story follows of how he has developed a potion to transform into Mr. Hyde, but later transforms without the aid of the potion, firstly in his sleep, then later whilst awake. he drinks his potion to transform back to Dr Jekyll. Aware that he is unable to control his transformations, he eventually becomes a recluse. He decides that the only way to rid the world of the depraved Mr. Hyde is to kill himself, and promptly throws himself under a car.

The actual story is not the most important part of the show, however. What is really good is the way the cast interact with the audience, and also talk over each other, argue, get distracted and sidetracked, before eventually bringing it back on course. It's exhausting just being in the audience! Some members of the audience are given parts to play, with the actors whispering their lines to them first.

The cast are all regulars of the Wellington scene. Andrew Paterson was seen as Isaac Newton in Isaac’s Eye, Jack Buchanan in The Mystery Of Edwin Drood and Hayley Sproull as the musical Miss Fletcher Sings The Blues. And doubtless other stuff that I've missed.

The show is quite short - there's a drinks break, but you don't leave your seats for it - pre-ordered drinks are brought in - but such is the nature of the show, it seems like you've been in there for an action-packed couple of hours. This show is a lot of fun - go see it!

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