Thursday, November 7, 2013

QUICK TAKE REVIEW By Beverly Creasey The Dualists

Stoneham’s Theatre’s dark and brooding DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE (playing through Nov.10th) is based on the classic story by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson. Legends of men turning into monsters (usually during a full moon) pepper Scottish folk tales but Stevenson lifted the story into the “modern age” by suggesting that good and evil exists in everyone.

This particular adaptation by Jeffrey Hatcher features one actor as Dr. Jekyll (a somber, tortured Benjamin Evett) and the rest of the company taking turns as Hyde. The rapid changes (from business man or butler to monster) hammer home the lesson than given the right (or rather, wrong) circumstances, any of us might choose criminality over civility…not to mention that the theatrical effect of multiple Hydes, in director Caitlin Lowans’ stylish production, is certainly powerful. But what is sacrificed to the multiplicity is the thrill of one actor transforming himself into the fiend before our eyes.

The charismatic Alexander Platt (in several roles) provides a hefty dose of suspense to the story. Will his seemingly invincible Hyde triumph over the weak willed doctor? Will blackmail out? Platt as Hyde possesses that dangerous magnetism which seems to draw women (in particular, Esme Allen as his fearless lover) to the “bad boy” instead of the good guy.

Cheryl McMahon plays several “pants” roles in JEKYLL & HYDE but her vile, sadistic anatomy professor cries out for comeuppance, he’s so nasty. Nick Sulfaro, too, impresses in several roles but his nervous butler supplies much needed amusement. Dale Place is a force to be reckoned with as Hyde but, as Jekyll’s thoughtful friend, Utterson, he gets to speculate about man’s subconscious instincts and drive home the cautionary message of the piece.