North Coast REP Welcomes Fall Season by Bringing the Haunting Tale "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"

With a skillful direction, combined with exceptional design elements that create a chilling and captivating experience 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

(L-R) Bruce Turk, Katie MacNichol, Conner Marx, Jacob Bruce, Ciarra Stroud & Christopher M. Williams photo by Aaron Rumley

There is nothing better than when a production fits into the overall feel of the season. North Coast Repertory Theatre gathered various elements for their latest production, Jeffrey Hatcher's adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's novella “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," to not only enhance the fall colors, gloom, and cold but to additionally start wrapping up the year in a metaphoric and histrionic way. The classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde aside from having that British dark flare (and gore), it also points out the contrasting sides of the human personality and corresponding demons as Henry Jekyll is a renowned and respected doctor based in Soho in the West End of London. He develops a serum to try to contain his contrasting urges but the opposite happens and he loses control while his alternate ego takes charge.

The production was directed by the talented artist Shana Wride, who I saw last onstage in another British play, Present Laughter at Cygnet, and last year in Into the Breeches! precisely at North Coast. It is great to witness Wride's different artistic sides and in this case, creative choices for the stage, guiding the talented cast, including Jacob Bruce, Katie MacNichol, Conner Marx, Ciarra Stroud, Bruce Turk, and Christopher M. Williams, to bring this haunting tale to life that was resolved in a very original form by grouping the actors to alternate the portrayal of Hyde while intersecting different characters of the story at the same time that Bruce Turk alternates with Jekyll. Ciarra Stroud plays the chambermaid, love interest, and trigger, Elizabeth. This dynamic adds to the already inherent tension of the story by having to follow the ping-ponging of the actors as they tag for the interpretation of Dr. Henry Jekyll’s alternate personality. Although the weight of the story naturally inclines towards Bruce Turk who has not disappointed yet, there is nothing but histrionic power in this cast as everyone is captivating while giving each other space to stand out and have their own moment.

Elisa Benzoni’s wardrobe design featuring a checkered vest and striped pants for the ensemble, sort of a uniform, made for a wonderful combination that adds to the visual appeal of the production. Worth noting that Elizabeth stands out wearing the same patterns but instead of pants, she wears a skirt and instead of a tie, a bow, providing a distinct contrast to the rest of the characters. I thought this to be subtle and brilliant.

Katie MacNichol & Bruce Turk - photo by Aaron Rumley

Marty Burnett's scenic design transports the audience to the eerie world of Victorian London very simply by adapting gray walls with sliding doors that showcase the actors' shadow through Matthew Novotny and Erik Montierth’s blue lighting design that creates an ethereal and mysterious atmosphere. This consistent visual palette enhances the sense of unease and adds to the overall sense of dread. Melanie Chen Cole’s sound design integrated gorgeous suspenseful music, that heightened the tension, with another layer of intrigue to the narrative. This production was playful with the aesthetic nodding clues to the audience. Another standout feature is a red door that is placed in the middle of the stage and cleverly moves around, symbolizing the duality and ever-changing nature of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and, for me, the iconic London red phone booths.

This production is a must-see for theater enthusiasts. The skillful direction, combined with the exceptional design elements, creates a chilling and captivating experience that stays with the audience long after the final curtain call. Currently playing until November 12. For performance dates and times, please click HERE.



No comments:

Post a Comment