The stage seems to be taking deep breaths at the start of the Sell A Door company's touring production of Jo Clifford's reimagining of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic split personality tale. If such amplified rumblings sound like they've been dredged up from Quatermass's pit, such allusions to dark futurescapes are all too fitting in Clifford's version, set in an shiny 2020 where all the measures right-wing fundamentalists aspire to have been set quietly in stone, steel and glass.
Here cancer specialist Dr Jekyll is a celebrity saviour, a publicity-hungry charity runner who, away from the cameras, can't control his desires. Once he tests his wonder drug on himself, the rush of testosterone turns such everyday abuse into something even more predatory. Jekyll's alter-ego Mr Hyde is like a feral werewolf on heat, at one point humiliating his prey in what looks like a scene from Fifty Shades of Grey rendered as music hall.
The latter-day parallels aren't hard to spot in a rich text which leaves nothing hidden as actors Nathan Ives-Mioba, Lyle Barker and Rowena Lennon introduce their characters to the audience. Clifford says much about how a self-serving establishment can become high on their own presumed power while obliterating their essential humanity within. David Hutchinson's production, set on a revolving steel platform that represents the sort of soul-less apartment the filthy rich hide out in, aspires to cartoon-strip science-fiction, as Hyde's increasingly cyborg-like appearance shows.
As the final scene makes clear, however, it is the women who are forced to keep their true selves hidden, even as they mop up the man-made mess left behind.
The Herald, February 20th 2014