Review: Jekyll & Hyde, Bristol Hippodrome

7 05 2011

Marti Pellow has jinxed the beautiful weather we have had in Bristol. He arrives in town to star in Jekyll & Hyde at the Hippodrome and it starts to rain, wet wet wet rain. He also jinxed this musical, as it’s difficult to like a show if you so dislike its star, especially if he is playing both of the main characters.

When he was singing, Pellow (right) was at his best. But as Dr Henry Jekyll has two sides to his character, so Pellow had two sides to his performance. His acting was as strong as the Lib Dems’ showing in this week’s local elections, with a particularly annoying breathy speaking voice to compound the misery.

Sweet little mystery how he landed this role, so it was with some relief that Pellow’s co-star Carolyn Maitland, playing loveable whore Lucy, was such a revelation.

What made her performance all the better was that she is an understudy but performed with an adorable sweetness that belied her second billing. Maitland shone and it is certain that she will soon be moving from understudy to star.

This musical version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s short story was on Broadway between 1997 and 2001. As is usual now in the major travelling shows, the sets dropping from above or sliding through from the wings, are very impressive, with Dr Jekyll’s laboratory particularly striking and the streets of Victorian London certainly menacing.

On one of Hyde’s rampages through these dark streets, he picks a young girl up and puts her in a bin, a scene which bears a striking similarity to the woman caught on CCTV last year throwing a cat into a wheelie bin in Coventry.

The same plaudits for the set cannot be given to the music, with only Pellow’s solo This is the Moment and the opening song of the second half, Murder Murder, possessing any oomph. The characters are also neither memorable nor interesting, with the exception of Lucy, whose conflicted emotions – to fall for the evil Mr Hyde or not? – mirror the conflicts Dr Jekyll feels as he experiments with his new potion to cure mental illness.

Love is all around initially when Jekyll prepares to marry his fiancée Emma (Sarah Earnshaw), but when Hyde takes over, this is a very dark musical. Do not expect the feel-good shenanigans of recent productions at the Hippodrome such as Calendar Girls or Hairspray, Jekyll & Hyde is relentlessly downbeat.

Sweet surrender finally takes hold of Jekyll in the closing scene after his alter-ego completes his killing spree, and as the curtain comes down and then goes up again we see a beaming Pellow, back to his usual smiley self.

This production was boring and bland, and much of the blame for that can go to Pellow, the least inspiring lead that I have seen at the Hippodrome since Chesney Hawkes starred in Barry Manilow musical Can’t Smile Without You in 2008. I felt it in my fingers and I felt it in my toes.

Jekyll & Hyde is at Bristol Hippodrome until May 14. Click here for more information.



3 responses

9 05 2011
Daniel Penfold

… It’s rather bad form to try and sneak as many song titles in as possiblecon such a negative review

15 05 2011
Ray Smith

Went last night, (Saturday 14th May 2011), was very surprised to see the theatre only 2/3 rds full.
Fully agree with the review above – the weak link was the ‘star’ and I say this as someone who liked Marti Pellow’s pop efforts.
Unfortunately as soon as he opened his mouth I couldn’t understand half of what he was saying in his breathless ‘Russ Abbott’ voice – this combined with very wooden gestures and nods became annoying.
The stars of this production for me were Jacob Chapman, as the flouncy Lord Savage and also the menacing Spider – with the ultimate accolade going to Sabrina Carter as Lucy, the ‘Tart with a heart’, who was excellent.
Carolyn Maitland – the understudy Lucy, mentioned above, did stand out in the ensemble.
Overall – not a bad show – but it would have been so much better with a more experienced leading character.

6 06 2011

what a negative review and i completly disagree if not for mr pellow show would be awfull i have seen loads plays in bristol in 2009 witches of east wick with mr pellow was fantastic stay positive life to short for negativety

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