Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at Prime Stage | Theater | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at Prime Stage

It's a fun little horror show

Andrew Miller in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at Prime Stage
Photo courtesy of Rebecca Antal Mutschler
Andrew Miller in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at Prime Stage

Prime Stage Theatre's production of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — the premiere of Bruce Hall's adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel — is a fun little horror show with delightful set design. I'm perplexed why the show is running in November, after the Halloween joie de macabre is dead and buried. Although in fairness, Halloween is one of those seasons, like Easter, where "dead and buried" is least likely to mean what you think.

If you're reading this in 2014, you know the plot: Nice guy takes drug that turns him into an unrecognizable jerk, lives double life, ends up regretting that even his "good" side knowingly took a drug that made him murder people. The story survives in contemporary incarnations like The Nutty Professor and most werewolf movies.

Adaptations of Jekyll are many and popular. Let's consider what distinguishes this one:

(1) No Jerry Lewis. I like Prime Stage already.

(2) The joy of Jekyll is seeing the carnivalesque contortions of the lead performing two roles at once. The main characters' ability to talk to himselves is crucial and if done poorly can sabotage an entire production; Willem Dafoe couldn't do it in Spider-Man, and he had the magic of Dutch angles. Fortunately, Andrew Miller's Jekyll and Hyde do very, very well. For that alone, Miller deserves a shelf of awards.

(3) The production design is impeccable. Karl Jacobson's set is gorgeous and director Michael McKelvey uses the whole New Hazlett Theater to terrific effect. Costume/prop designer Kim Brown won my admiration by employing my favorite weird fashion item and giving almost every woman on stage a terrifyingly silly bustle.

Unfortunately, the show's not flawless. The second act is distressingly eager to conclude itself, with one of the most hurried final scenes I've seen in a while. I suppose it's hard to expand scenes in a plot where none of the characters wants to see each other. Still, some time to elaborate on things would have been appreciated, especially as the beginning of the second act involved some subterfuge with a forged letter that I could not make sense of without looking up the original book.

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