I’ve been sitting on this post for a while, because I was almost ready to roll with it when ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ posted its notice. No matter what I think of a show, that’s always a sad occasion, and my heart goes out to the talented bunch in the show, who all deserve to be in longer-running, better shows.
That being said, am I going to let the show off the hook? Absolutely not! I have been secretly looking forward to seeing it for months, ever since they released their vinyl-scented-Hot-Topic-Haunted-House-sex-orgy promo video. I do love a mix of camp and power belting, if I do say so myself, and the promise of the corsets AND pop stars AND Victorian murder shimmered with the promise of that most ethereal and elusive of guilty pleasures, the ‘fun bad’. I girded my consciousness with two Joe Allen martinis and sat down in my seat, thinking this, maybe, was the moment after all. The moment when I could relive the combination of stunned disbelief and inner joy that I felt when I saw the original production, and knew that I would be re-enacting Jekyll and Hyde’s hair-flipping solo duet (Soet? Dulo?) for years to come. As I have.
So did the new production deliver? Meh. Perhaps it is the Dramaturg in me, but I found myself more often pondering the many questions the show prompts than delighting in a gothic fun-fest. So I thought I would share a few of my thoughts about the show with you all, followed by the haikus that I wrote in my head during the epic stretches of show when… you know, I can’t even remember. Some stuff happens, I guess. But certainly not character development or anything (how about those female characters? Like the one who sings in a soprano and is loyal and pretty, or the other one who belts and is sexy. Not since Mama Rose has there been such complex characterization).
Anyhoo, here are my lingering questions on the show:
1. Really, they have no better way to store their insane people? The show begins with Jekyll bemoaning the state of his father, who is confined to an insane asylum. But when I say confined, I mean strapped to a tiled wall a few feet into the air like a giant moth. Now this is sort of an interesting visual in a ‘Tom Waits in Dracula‘ way, but you just stare at him and think, isn’t there a better place to store this guy? Like, say, the ground?
2. Okay, seriously, nobody recognizes Hyde? Because he is literally JUST Jekyll with his hair down. And a coat. And yet nobody seems to have any idea who this mystery man is – not the hospital board members who have been following his career, not the lawyer who has known him for years, not the prostitute who is in love with Jekyll but has regular sex with Hyde (and who sings of looking deeply into Jekyll’s eyes, so presumably she knows what his face looks like). Seriously, though, guys. It’s not like he’s wearing a Scream mask or dressed as his dead mother – it’s JUST the hair. This begs the question of how Jekyll has been living before then – has he tried to change his look occasionally and discovered that nobody recognizes him? Did he cut his hair once and have his family call the police on him when they thought he was an intruder? Inquiring minds want to know.
3. What exactly is that contraption in Jekyll’s lab? Because it looks like the world’s largest beer hat, if it were designed for the gay club Splash. And how exactly does this whole formula work? Jekyll requires a lot of chemicals, and then seems to have a little soda bottle of the formula, which he then droppers into a series of large beakers of a clear (or red, given the disco lighting) liquid, which then turn green. There are eight of those things, which attach to tubes that attach to a neck collar and a sort of android-looking wrist thing, which Jekyll wears the first time. Why do you need eight tubes of the same formula? Wouldn’t one suffice? And if later he drinks the formula, why doesn’t he just do that the first time? Wouldn’t that be easier?
4. Does anyone in this show make good decisions? I mean, really, you can’t get a series of victims more responsible for their own fates. The hospital board members are being slowly picked off, and yet only one of them is like, “hey, clearly there’s a pattern here, I should probably leave.” But that’s nothing compared to Lucy, the tragic prostitute, who receives a letter saying she is in grave danger and should leave immediately, with a wad of cash so she can do that. But does she pack her few things (which seem to be primarily white cottony underthings, even though we really only ever see her in red and black leather) and book it out of there? Nope, she decides to sing a power ballad about her hopes for a new life. Now, I am no fan of blaming the victim, but I do think that if you receive a letter explicitly saying to leave immediately because a murderer is after you, then you decided to do some power belting about it instead of just scooting, your impending murder is a little bit on you.
And now for the poetry:
Just calling it now –
My new nickname for the show
Is ‘Dreckyll and Hyde’.
Where is this show set?
According to the accents,
Deep South Aussie France.
An epic battle
Between a man and his two