Fringe 2018 – “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” is Fantastic!
Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, first published in 1886, has undergone countless iterations on stage, in novels and in films. And now, Blanket Fort Entertainment brings their unique version to the stage at the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
A Classic Tale
Most everyone knows the story: Doctor Henry Jekyll attempts to get financial backing and approval from elite scientists to further his experiments on separating the good and evil tendencies in human brains. After being refused by society, Jekyll experiments on himself, creating primal alter-ego Edward Hyde. Jekyll loses control of Hyde, who gets stronger and more murderous with time. This conflict between the good and evil within Jekyll culminates in him having to choose whether to die as a good man, or live long enough to be apprehended and executed as Hyde.
An Exceptional Production
Blanket Fort infuses their production of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde with humor and creates a fantastic two-person showcase for founders/writers Burt Grinstead (playing Jekyll and Hyde) and Anna Stromberg (playing everyone else). With the show expertly whittled down to the basics, Grinstead and (especially) Stromberg showcase their incredible physicality and dialect work by oscillating quickly between characters. Stromberg is hilarious rotating between being a little girl, a drunken old man, a blustering policeman, and a concerned maid (among others). Grinstead skillfully transforms from charming and troubled Jekyll to menacingly predatory Hyde. The two stars are not only extremely talented, but the audience can tell that they are deeply invested in what they’ve created and want to share their enjoyment.
This Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde is bare-bones, but fully engaging. The sets are made entirely of black, stackable stairs with hidden compartments that open for embellishments. The costumes are also all black, with minimal accessories to help the audience with the character changes. The staging/direction (also by Stromberg) is smart and sharp to fully maximize the humor of the production. Many scenes had me guffawing with laughter at the characters’ interactions, as well as the slight winks to the audience.
A clever mix of the original gothic story and their own brand of witty, nuanced humor, Blanket Fort’s version of the classic story is an amazing time at the theater, and a must-see for Fringe! Absolutely fantastic!