Hyde and Seek

Flat Packed Theatre
Underbelly, Cowgate – until August 25th
3 Stars (3 / 5)

The back door of the cabaret opens for Dr. Jekyll every Friday so he can visit miss Daisy, actress and lover. Albert, a former stage-doorman tells the story. He also opens has to open the door for the mysterious, violent and vulgar Mr. Hyde who usurps Daisy for himself. The stronger and wilder Hyde gets, the weaker Jekyll becomes. However, Jekyll is not Hyde’s main enemy, it is the character of a detective who starts to call himself Seek, since he is searching out Hyde. The psychological weight is put aside for the audience to enjoy cabaret with songs, puppets and shadow play.

One actor/director (Michael Tonkin-Jones) performs and operates all technical aspects of the piece at the same time. Through an incredible system of wires and gadgets he manages to control flashing lights, projections and music while acting. Without knowing this fact in advance, it is hard to imagine, and one could compliment a technician on the perfect timing. Kudos to Tonkin-Jones and technical designer Ciaran Clarke for that.

Tonkin-Jones successfully created 7 interacting characters by himself. Each of them unique and easily recognisable through his prompt switches. However, he creates whole dialogues with many swaps. This is amusing for the first few times, but it just lasts too long and he loses tension of the dramatic situations with too many many jumps and turns. Even his narration is missing necessary excitement because of exaggerated pauses. Some of these are necessary for his technical wizardry, but they are overused – perhaps to show off, or perhaps Tonkin-Jones has not yet realised it. This creates a lack of rhythm and the performance gets slushy. It is also caused by inconsistent work with the sheet curtain. He uses it to change scenes or for shadow play, but in many cases, he just goes through or runs behind it with no real purpose.

A technically well-made show that provokes a sense of wonder: How is it all possible?
That said – some critical direction is considerably missing.