Most people know the dark tale of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, which was perhaps the initial story that inspired so many dual personality characters. Respectable scientist Dr Jekyll takes his experiments one step too far and turns himself into his immoral counterpart Mr Hyde. As Hyde grows stronger, Jekyll realises that he will eventually be consumed by him…
The Man Inside, written by Tony Rees and Gary Young and directed by Robert McWhir, is a musical adaptation of the famous story. There is very little dialogue, but it does not feel like the cast are singing for the sake of it and the music is nicely done and suitably dramatic, with the double bass adding subtle emphasis to the piano.
The staging is surprisingly extravagant, cleverly designed to be several locations at the same time and lighting is kept suitably low as befits Victorian London. With just three actors, the production focuses on the relationship that Jekyll / Hyde (Dave Willetts) has with the two women in his life – Katherine (Alexandra Fisher) and Lizzie (Jessie Lilley).
West End veteran Willetts is always a pleasure to watch and despite no real physical difference between Jekyll and Hyde you do believe he is two different people. As Jekyll he comes across as a nice, hardworking man but when he transforms into Hyde, his facial expressions become quite frightening. Unlike the two girls, he has no need for a microphone and his voice is rich and full of character.
Lilley is a delight as prostitute Lizzy, bringing a cheeky swagger to the role and flirting outrageously with the ‘pretty gents’ and ‘handsome sirs’ in the audience as she sings London. Her costume is a fantastic white gothic creation and her emotions are clear in her singing, portraying her as both confident prostitute and vulnerable woman.
Katherine however is a weak character and although Fisher tries her best, the role just seems to bore her. In fact Katherine adds very little to this interpretation, except to show that she is a total contrast to Lizzie, who is Hyde’s ideal woman. Oddly the girls are similar to characters from Les Misérables, with Lizzie a blend of Fantine and Eponine, Katherine a dull version of Cosette.
However, The Man Inside is an enjoyable interpretation and the small cast keeps this production intimate with no real need for additional actors. With a few minor changes, particularly the ending, which leaves a lot to be desired – Hyde’s suicide would be much more suitable – it could be a triumph.
Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes
The Man Inside plays at the Landor Theatre until 29th March 2014