Æ News – Jekyll & Hyde bring evil to Teviot Row

Nov 1 2010 | By More

Duality is key to Eusog’s version of Jekyll & Hyde

The Light Side to Eusog's production

By Thom Dibdin

Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group bring a new production of the early 1990s musical adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to Teviot House this week.

Picking up from Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella of the self-experimenting renegade Doctor Jekyll, Steve Cuden and Frank Wildhorn’s concept has the Doctor creating a formula capable of separating a man’s good from his evil side. Although Jekyll believes it can cure madness, his self-aggrandising board of governors refuse to sanction his experiments.

While Jekyll unleashes Mr Hyde as his own dark side, to set about the board with lethal results, Leslie Brecuse’s book and lyrics linger over Jekyll’s neglected love for his fiancé, Emma Carew, and Hyde’s increasingly passionate relationship with the prostitute Lucy Harris.

Eusog’s production stars Hamish Colville in the dual role of Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr. Edward Hyde with Kate Lister as Jekyll’s fiancé Emma Carew and Rebecca Clark as the prostitute Lucy Harris who Jekyll befriends and Hyde abuses.

“The true horror of Hyde doesn’t reside in a beast or repulsive figure, but in man’s capacity for evil,” says the production’s director, Duncan Yellowlees who, like RLS, is an Engineering student at the University of Edinburgh. “The cold, calculating enjoyment of the individual as he murders another is, for me, far more terrifying than a monster being monstrous.

“Duality is a concept central to the show, particularly in the face of Victorian views of propriety. In Hyde, Jekyll is forced to confront his malevolent interior and we recognise a capacity for evil that resides, secretly, at the heart of every one of us.”

Created first as a concept album, pop composer Wildhorn’s musical score is seen by Musical Director Richard Robinson as the perfect accompaniment to Jekyll’s consuming plight. “The punchy numbers are evocative of the busy Victorian street, where rich and poor are at each others throats,” he says. “It consistently and perfectly captivates the show’s dynamic nature.”

And the Dark Side of the production

Robinson believes the “captivating and consuming” score is the “perfect accompaniment” to the script. He has been “hooked on its dynamic musical numbers since first hearing them, and having the opportunity to perform it with Eusog’s incredible singing and acting talent has been an amazing experience.

“The ensemble numbers are passionate, evocative and strong, contrasting with the tender voices of the principal solos. Slow, pensive pieces encapsulate Jekyll’s heart-wrenching search for a cure to his duality, whilst high-paced Hyde shows off his animalistic euphoria at feeling ‘alive’ and free.”

This is the fourth version of the musical to grace Edinburgh’s stages since 2004, when a big professional production lumbered onto the Playhouse  stage with Paul Nicholas in the title role. In a somewhat clunky production, Shona Lindsay as Lisa and Louise Dearman as Lucy were at the heart of anything worth remembering.

Local amateurs Tempo brought a much more understanding version to the St Brides Centre in 2006 in a production that both understood the musical’s potential and had the musical ability to show it off, with Ian McInnes in the title role, Lesley Rooney as Emma and Gabriele Pavone as Lucy.

A well-drilled production from Forth Children’s Theatre in 2008 once again proved the quality of the material – and the company – but didn’t get near to the nub of the adult material.

And it is certainly adult material. As Yellowlees and Robinson point out: “For us, Hyde is a force of pure, raw nature, released from the constraints of social expectation and human inhibitions. He is, unquestionably, chaos and energy truly unleashed.”

Jekyll and Hyde runs at the Teviot Row House Debating Hall, Bristo Square, Tuesday 2nd to Friday 5th November, 7.30pm. Tickets priced £8 (£5 concessions) are available from www.eusog.org/tickets.

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