Jekyll & Hyde

Jekyll and Hyde Cabaret Festival 2024Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Space Theatre. 8 Jun 2024


New Zealand company A Slightly Isolated Dog (go figure!) give the iconic gothic story a sexy, high-camp, over-the-top, high-energy makeover while preserving the fundamentals of the story: “We all have a darkness in us, but we push it down”, which is the oft-said refrain of the hard-working cast. The large crowd in the Space Theatre, which has been turned into a black-box theatre replete with bentwood chairs, round tables and electric candles, are all up for a good time. Judging by the whoops, cheers, gales of laughter, and willingness to play along with the performers (and their silly faux-French accents, which really signals we’re in for a silly time!), the audience was not disappointed, but this reviewer was.


Some of the strengths of the show were also its weakness: a large crowd on a mostly flat auditorium floor, but they did not enjoy clear sightlines; an energetic, brash and engaging cast that simultaneously wanders amongst and works the crowd, but it’s too difficult to hear them clearly (depending on where you sat), and there was no amplification; a fast-moving episodic unfolding plot that depends crucially on audience participation, which is willingly given, but it can’t always be clearly seen or heard (it’s as much visual as it is aural).


Occasionally there is a powerful rendition of a song to underline the course of the narrative, such as Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, which is a cute spin on the conflicted mind of Dr Jekyll who loses (or finds?) himself when he becomes Mr Hyde. A rap trio is especially effective and well performed. But the musical numbers are probably less in number than would be expected in a cabaret performance, and the event more resembles a cross over between stand-up and improvised story telling with slap-stick physical theatre that would suit the Fringe Festival in an abbreviated form.


Much store is placed on highly impressive sound effects throughout the performance to underline words, action, and mood. The cast and the SFX operator have it down pat – the timing is exquisite, the sound quality and inventiveness is superb, and even the audience gets in on the act. One young fellow became an instant gun slinger and shot down the cast (and possibly other audience members!) in an impressive impromptu display of gangster gun slinging!


There is so much happening in this show. The pace is dizzying, and unrelenting – it’s almost flawed – and it’s difficult to leave the theatre without much more than having had a good laugh (which is an altogether good thing in these dismal times), and perhaps a nagging feeling that we all have darkness within, but we push it down.


Kym Clayton


When: 8 to 9 Jun

Where: Space Theatre

Bookings: Closed