‘Hyde’ sheds bright light on darker na­ture

> Dread vis­ceral, in­tel­lec­tual in this chill-sea­son thriller

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Stage - By Jon W. Sparks

Spe­cial to The Com­mer­cial Ap­peal

The good/evil tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has de­lighted and thrilled read­ers and play­go­ers since Robert Louis Steven­son penned the novella in 1886.

The­atre Mem­phis has staged a ter­rific Hal­loween sea­son chiller, spin­ning a new ver­sion of the re­spectable physi­cian who ex­plores his darker na­ture by im­mer­sion. His ad­dic­tion is a strug­gle of the soul of right vs. wrong, logic vs. emo­tion, or­der vs. may­hem.

The­atre Mem­phis’ pro­duc­tion of Jef­frey Hatcher’s in­sight­ful adap­ta­tion takes it up a notch. The no­tion of our bad side strug­gling with the good is given a more com­plex treat­ment, where we are faced with sev­eral dis­tinct demons, not all of whom re­flect the worst in us, but all of whom trou­ble us. It’s where the wild things re­ally are.

Jerry Dye’s di­rec­tion is a briskly paced scru­tiny of Jekyll (Ki­non Keplinger, solidly up­tight and tor­mented) whose ded­i­ca­tion to sci­ence and the truth is eroded by his need to con­ceal his true ex­per­i­ment.

Dye’s ki­netic vi­sion pro­pels the pro­duc­tion through lev­els of vis­ceral and in­tel­lec­tual un­ease. He makes ex­cel­lent use of the spare set, in­clud­ing Hyde’s me­an­der­ing red door — a char­ac­ter in it­self, to feed the dread.

Be­sides Keplinger, half a dozen other ac­tors carry the bulk of mul­ti­ple per­for­mances. A crisp and for­mi­da­ble Christina Well­ford Scott, a nicely nu­anced Steven Brown, a pas­sion­ate Matt Reed and a strong Erin Shel­ton are all par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive.

There is in­spired use of sound and light. Low, thrum­ming sounds and un­set­tling echoes are blended for ex­cel­lent ef­fect. The lighting is smartly em­ployed to ac­cent the action. Four stacks of a dozen strong lights face the au­di­ence and un­der­score mo­ments of vi­o­lence and ter­ror. It’s a (lit­er­ally) bril­liant con­cept, al­though blind­ing the­ater­go­ers risks tak­ing the viewer out of the action.

But suc­cess­ful pro­duc­tions usu­ally take risks, and Dye’s thrilling ef­fort boldly goes for the jugu­lar with highly en­ter­tain­ing con­se­quences.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.