Theater Review: ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ is confusing and recommended

Thursday night, I had the pleasure of seeing a classic tale of good versus evil in Central Michigan University’s own Bush Theatre. The Summer Theatre Program presented “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” directed by Timothy D. Connors.

The simple set design was a perfect backdrop for one of the more confusing performances I have ever seen. It had eight main pieces of furniture arranged into different rooms on the stage by members of the cast. The grey background and black curtains allowed the audience to focus in on the actors.

Courtesy photo from CMU Media Channel, University Communications

The story begins with a renowned scientist, Jekyll, who is obsessed with the idea of having another person inside of oneself that is always looking for a way out. This obsession leads him to concoct a recipe that will let his inner, evil personality, Hyde, come out. Jekyll’s lies and Hyde’s anger lead to a very dramatic climax that includes three murders, one suicide and a vow of love. Don’t let the dramatic plot fool you, though; there is plenty of comic relief from the actors.

Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde were performed by standout actor Kyle Burch, who could easily have a future in the theatre. The other two actors worth noting are Iana Neville as the Maid and Lucas Cosens as The Butler. Not only did these two perform as a maid and butler, they also performed as narrators, police and multiple other characters. Their transitions were quick, flawless and completely believable.

As beautilfully done as these character transitions were, they were also the most confusing part of the play. There were many times during the performance that the Maid and Butler step aside with a different light on them and become a completely different person. Neville and Cosens did their best to have different accents and mannerisms for each character, but the quick changes were still too much to follow when there were larger things in the plot occurring. These characters were essential for moving the play forward, but were distracting to the play as a whole.

I do encourage you to attend this play, even though I left with more confusion than I bargained for. The Bush Theatre is a beautiful, modern theatre that not enough students take advantage of. The actors are extremely dedicated to their parts and the ushers are more than helpful when you walk in.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde runs from September 4 through September 8. Each performance begins at 7:30 p.m. and the Sunday matinée begins at 2:00 p.m. If you missed this play, don’t fret! University Theatre is presenting Buffalo Gal from October 10 through 13 and October 17 through 20. All tickets can be purchased prior to show time at CMU Ticket Central or at the Bush Theatre Box office the night of.