Bristol Riverside Opens Season with Adaptation of Classic

by Walter Bender

Bristol Riverside Theatre opened its latest season on September 28 with DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE, adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher. This is the classic tale of the doctor who is compelled to examine the sides of humanity’s personalities and his ill-conceived attempts to eradicate the negatives side. Mr. Hatcher delves even deeper into this good vs. evil debate, with four different performers playing Mr. Hyde at different times, with four different dominant personality traits.

Robert Ian MacKenzie, Eileen Ward and Michael Sharon in a scene from Bristol Riverside Theatre's DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE, playing through October 17 in Bristol, PA.

Upon entering the auditorium, the stage has already been set…a dark street, lit by dim street lanterns, a red door dominant in the center. And to further enhance the mood, a damp fog invades the atmosphere. As the show opens, we see a figure slumped on the ground, with the other characters gathered around him. From this point, we are shown through flashback how we got to this point in time.

Michael Sharon plays the part of Dr. Henry Jekyll. His Jekyll begins like many others, but grows through the production, showing sides of the character that we do not often see in other productions. His interaction with the other characters is volatile, and we are swept up in his increasing agitation. Robert Ian MacKenzie, Sean Gormley, Ezra Barnes and Debra Whitfield are Actors One through Four respectively, playing most of the other characters with whom Jekyll interacts, as well as one of the four Hydes. Each is distinctive, both in each of their characters as well as keeping each Hyde very different, yet obviously the same person. Eileen Ward rounds out the cast as the Old Woman, giving a bit of comic/tragic relief with her appearances.

The most visible “actor” aside from these people is the door…a large red door that appears in almost every scene in the play, moved about by the actors as they move from scene to scene. With subtle changes in lighting the door appears alternately inviting and foreboding. The scenes are supplemented at times with gobo designs glowing on the back wall, rear lighting and other very striking lighting effects, as well as intermittent incidental music during periods of high tension. Director Keith Baker moves the actors and set around very well, the choreographed entrances and exits never distracting from the action or pace of the show.

This was a very interesting interpretation of the classic novella, fast-paced and captivating. I recommend a trip to the waterfront to see this first-rate production.

Written by Jeffrey Hatcher
Directed by Keith Baker
September 28 – October 17, 2010
Bristol Riverside Theatre
120 Radcliffe Street
Bristol, PA 19007

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1 comment

Robert Wilson October 18, 2010 - 5:05 am

thanks for the post


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