Oh Poppy Cock! Jeckyll and Hyde All Jazzed Up at The Cockpit, London

The Blue Orange Theatre Production company attempted to make their adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel innovative by setting it in the jazz era. But trying to stand out from the crowd resulted in a performance of all show and no substance. The actresses donned flapper dresses, the set was very art deco and the pianist played jazz songs throughout but that’s as much as Blue Orange invested in its 1920’s research. As the play progressed, the era in which it was set became very irrelevant and almost distracting from Stevenson’s classic tale.

 

Although the cast were very strong in terms of their acting ability, the script and structure of the play became very monotonous. In between every single scene, as though they feared that the audience would forget what era the play was set, the pianist would play a jazz song and one of two actresses would sing it. Having a song between every short scene became very tedious and time consuming. Unfortunately, the actresses were very firmly actresses and not at all what you would class as professional singers. It made me question what the point of the jazz music was apart from for Blue Orange to be able to claim that their version of Jeckyll and Hyde was unique. And it certainly was unique but not in the way one would hope.

There have been many adaptations of Jeckyll and Hyde that have succeeded because they have maintained and exaggerated the dark tale that Stevenson created. However, this particular production (staged at The Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone) failed to create tension or feeling and instead highlighted the reasons why Jeckyll and Hyde should never be associated with jazz again.

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