Jekyll & Hyde – Original Theatre ★★★★☆

Original Theatre’s digital version of Jekyll & Hyde arrives on streaming platforms following a live recording during a performance at Dundee Rep in February of this year. Gary McNair’s one-person play stars Forbes Mason who embodies the various characters of Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic 1886 Gothic novella in a tight 70-minute production, directed by Michael Fentiman.

Stevenson’s story remains the same: Richard Enfield and Gabriel John Utterson, a lawyer, are out for a walk when Enfield tells Utterson of a shocking interaction he recently had with a strange man called Edward Hyde. The matter was hushed up following a pay-off by a client of Utterson, Dr Henry Jekyll. Uttererson begins to investigate the matter, fearing that Jekyll may be in some legal danger that Hyde is using to blackmail him.

There is a freshness to McNair’s retelling – this could almost be a contemporary story only for some of the social clues embedded within the narrative that betray its 19th-century source. He also acknowledges within the text that most audience members will have some knowledge of the events, while framing the narrative in such a way that it is neither tedious for those with foreknowledge nor too hasty for those coming to the story fresh.

Max Jones’s design and Richard Howell’s lighting see Mason spotlighted, surrounded by darkness – as if recounting this tale from the depths of time. He is, he is pained to tell us, neither the hero nor the villain – still he clearly feels he has sinned, and the staging suggests he is coming to us from some form or purgatory, as if doomed to retell this story as penance, or as a warning. The minimalist approach leaves us in Mason’s capable hands as he carefully ramps up the tension of the story until it reaches its crescendo.

Jekyll & Hyde is available to stream now on Original Theatre