Nick Lane’s adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Gothic tale is well suited to the stage – The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde is expanded to provide more substantial ancillary characters. But the new narrative also sheds some light on the mysterious inner workings of both Jekyll and Hyde (artfully characterised by Jack Bannell). In this version, we have Jekyll disappearing entirely and Hyde unable to survive without him – the light is a necessity for the dark to exist.
The Toxic Avenger is certainly a stylised, kitsch, cult musical – takis’ set and costumes paint a vivid picture of a luminously dystopian New Jersey (or is it reality?), overrun with toxic waste that the Mayor (Natalie Hope) is dumping about town in order to make a quick buck. Nic Farman’s lighting adds harsh, cutting primary colours (mainly green); the overall visual on stage is as glaring as Andrew Johnson’s sound is loud and brash. Benji Sperring’s production is anything but subtle.
Guillermo Calderón’s B has an intimate feeling intermingled with an alternative, indie style of live production. Extreme activists Marcela (Aimée-Ffion Edwards) and Alejandra (Danusia Samal) chat with a millennial attitude; dry humour and wit draw out the comedy in Sam Pritchard’s production. It pauses awkwardly yet intentionally, peppered with sharp, monosyllabic grunts and statements of the obvious. The feeling is fresh and new, exactly the reputation that the Royal Court has gleaned for itself.
We walk around behind the scenes just before The Woman In Black starts. For the scariest show in the West End, the Fortune Theatre feels unassuming and mundane, in use as a performance space for 93 years and a pub for a further 150 before that. But with five shows a week, an estimated 10.5 million people will have passed across this spot since its theatrical genesis. That’s a lot of residual, latent memories with huge paranormal potential – if you believe in all of that stuff. For the record, I absolutely do not.
Writer Stephen Clark passed away last year before ever seeing his production of Le Grand Mort, a show he wrote specifically for Julian Clary, fully realised. It’s a show about the delicious intimacy that exists on the cusp of life and death, those dying moments when one is at their most vulnerable. And it’s equally deliciously written, Clark’s skill in both prose and verse evident in Clary’s prologue alone.