The Indiana Repertory Theatre decided to tackle the gothic classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as its season opener. The liberal adaptation, masterfully done by Jeffrey Hatcher, focuses on Jekyll’s gradual loss of control to the dark incarnation of himself, which he has brought to life with a medical experiment. Mr. Hyde lives by no conventional moral guidelines and he wreaks havoc on Jekyll’s carefully ordered life.
The most interesting element in the show was the decision to have the entire cast, save only Dr. Jekyll, play Hyde at different points. At times there was even a chorus of Hydes. When playing that character each cast member wore the same outfit, a tailored suit with an upturned lime green collar. The multiple Hydes work surprisingly well, providing a creepy omnipresence in the play. They give the production a unique and enthralling quality.
Kevin Cox, making his IRT debut, was the best of the Hydes. His performance was at once playful and disturbing; he could taunt and then turn animalistic in an instant. Ryan Artzberger does a great job as the troubled Dr. Jekyll, slowly loosing his grip on reality.
Three spiraling staircases, dirty windows, and a spinning door create a set as dark and twisted as the story itself. The ghostly make-up on the entire cast adds to the eerie atmosphere on the show.
There’s a wonderful part at the end of the first act that sums up the overarching theme perfectly. A maid witnesses a murder and while giving her testimony she says she meant to call for help sooner, but her “bad” side wanted to watch what happened and so she waited. Even that minor character struggled with her sinister desires. Anyone who gives too much power to that part of their nature will begin to loose balance and control.
The story is a fascinating study of the duality that lives in every person. For Jekyll and Hyde that darker side has been given a name and a life of its own, but even without that, each person has their own demons to struggle with.
Don't Miss the Show
The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois St. and southbound Capitol Ave. "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" runs until Sunday, Sept. 30 on IRT's Main Stage. Times for performances can be found at www.irtlive.com or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252. To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.com
Make sure to check out the IRT's Going Solo festival as well. This year's shows include The Syringa Tree and The Night Watcher on stage until October 14th.
*Photos courtesy of Zach Rosing