On Friday, I was lucky enough to see Jekyll and Hyde at the Old Vic. I was particularly lucky, given its short run of one week only. This short tenure was because Jekyll and Hyde was not your everyday Old Vic production. This production tells the story of the eponymous doctor entirely through dance.
I must admit: my previous experiences dance incorporated in theatre has left me less than enthused. Notably the Young Vic’s attempt to stage Macbeth in this medium. This was less to do with the dance element and more the mishandling of the text in collaboration with the dance. It made for a confused mess of a show, essentially ‘signifying nothing’.
The Old Vic, however, succeeds where it’s younger sibling failed; Jekyll and Hyde is a triumphant success, showing the power of storytelling in other mediums of theatre. Using only dance throughout dispelled any of the clunkiness of the Young Vic. Everything about this production flowed seamlessly: the dances, the music, even the transitions between Soutra Gilmour’s incredible sets. Obviously, the shift between Jekyll and Hyde should be jarring and indeed was with the use of lighting. But even this had a harmony, a rhythm to it.
Honestly, I thought I’d struggle with 2 hours of straight dance, no dialogue. But the dialogue was there: the way they moved their bodies was so expressive that you didn’t need words. In the rare moments you did hear characters utter anything, they mattered and were played beautifully. Director Drew McOnie’s juxtaposition of moments of sound and silence was brilliant.
Since watching the Old Vic’s (apologies for the pun) step into this area of theatre, I look forward to seeing more. Perhaps not as regularly as plays, but still every now and then.