23 May 2012
By Susan Hallissey
It’s always a little daunting seeing the musical version of a classic but I needn’t have worried. Performed by the inventive Morphic Graffiti theatre company, this is a high-energy piece and not once did I find a ‘weakest link.’
Tim Rogers playing Jekyll/Hyde is a powerhouse who holds this piece together with an unfaltering performance. As the whole (huge!) ensemble sing the second number, we are reminded of the façade we all live on a daily basis.
Set in the present day, Jekyll talks of duality and the evil that lurks within us. Rebuked by his peers he sets on a course of destruction; the Briccusse –Wildhorn score providing some thought provoking lyrics and tender moments.
Prior to Jekyll’s descent into madness (was he insane already?) we meet his fiancée, Emma Carew, played by the suitably love struck Joanna Stroud.
As Jekyll delves into a murky underworld he comes across a young prostitute, Lucy Harris, played by the enigmatic Madalena Alberto. Alberto lights up the stage in the nightclub scene singing ‘Bring on the Men’, drawing you into her pain with her emotive voice. Later in a duet with Emma both actresses clearly hold their own.
As Jekyll duly turns in to Hyde I was impressed with Rogers’ performance, his physicality seemed to change and a brilliant Hyde was created.
A hectic ensemble piece portraying the many faces of London emerged in the second act. Big Issue vendors, hairdressers, nuns and young mums, amongst others, were part of the frantic scene. Hyde has now taken over and the annihilation of his peers has struck a note with the nation. This cleverly devised scene uses newspapers and mobile phones in an exceptional manner.
This being the fight of good versus evil someone has to win, yet there is no happy ending in this hard hitting play. Jekyll/Hyde has gained a swagger which is short lived, even though I would have relished more.
This is a vigorous and wonderful piece of theatre with too many great performances to mention, but please look out for Lady Beaconsfield’s (Andrea Miller) demise!
The band, directed by Dean Austi deserve a mention as they were faultless in creating atmosphere, and the set design, (Stewart Charlesworth) ingenious.
The Union has a knack of presenting vast and fearless musicals in a small space – and I’m pleased to say they’ve done it again!
Union Theatre, 204 Union Street, SE1 0LX until 16th June.
Tuesday - Saturday 7.30pm, Sundays 2pm and 6pm.
Box Office: 020 7261 9876 - www.uniontheatre.biz £20 (£18 concession)
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