On the 28th August David Davies presented his one man show Hyde in the Little Overcroft Theatre at the historic Kentwell Hall, Long Melford, Suffolk.

The theatre being small and intimate is ideal for a one man show and especially for a show overlain with intensity.

! David Davies impersonated the Dr Jekyll of Robert Louis Stevensonʼs dark novel Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. His script is lifted almost verbatim from the Statement that Stevenson has Jekyll make late in the novel to explain his actions. Stevenson has Jekyll expound a theory that every person has two sides to him. The good side which is usually that presented to the world and a dark side which usually remains hidden.

! Dr Jekyll was outwardly a well liked upright member of his community but wanted to explore this darker side of himself. He developed a potion which when perfected enabled him not only to become, but also to go about, as that other: the small, animalistic, hideous Hyde capable of depravities which are not revealed to the reader save for one murder. Yet Jekyll evinces no remorse for the wrongs he commits albeit as Hyde. Ultimately Hyde takes over Jekyll who becomes Hyde at will without Jekyll taking the potion. Jekyll cannot escape from him.
! In our time we would consider this personality change as schizophrenic but in schizophrenia the patient suffers a (sometimes extreme) personality change but unlike Jekyll does not physically change his (or her) appearance. The treatment for the condition is drugs which prevent the alter ego from taking over. Schizophrenics I have known hate the drugs and sometimes suspend taking them because they feel their manic other personality is their real me and that by drugs they are forced to live as someone they are not. So Stevenson made Dr Jekyll explore what is now a well known condition.

! The actor in Hyde is offered the opportunity to become another character before the eyes of the audience who usually only meet fully formed characters on stage. It is difficult to effect this change minus the physical differences that the book describes without falling into the trap of eye-rolling and facial contortion typical of an actor portraying madness. Nonetheless David Davies gave the audience a Jekyll who outwardly was not quite as sane as he appeared - who would sensibly develop a potion to unleash his dark inner self - while his Hyde always was Jekyll and the lack of extreme make-up merely emphasized this fact.

! Its an unsettling piece because Stevensonʼs core feature that we harbour within us all another darker side is an uncomfortable truth which too often we refuse to recognize. This performance forced us to do so because David Davies was always recognizably Jekyll and with his fine Shakespearean voice and technique made a realistic presentation of an almost ordinary man who took too far the notion of knowing thyself.

PP September 2015

Anglian Business Green 100

All images and text © Kentwell Hall, Long Melford, Suffolk CO10 9BA