I wrote this for The Stage’s Critic Search: a review of Drew McOnie’s dance production Jekyll & Hyde at the Old Vic Theatre.

Everybody knows the plot of Jekyll and Hyde. Jekyll is Hyde. In adapting Stevenson’s fable for a wordless dance production, choreographer/director Drew McOnie has found a way to breathe new life into the old story.

The drama is vividly drawn using Matthew Bourne’s technique of double casting to explore aspects of character. Daniel Collins dances Jekyll with goofy lightness dissolving into tremulous fear, while Tim Hodges’s Hyde oozes menace.

The florally festooned pas de deuxes between Collins’s Jekyll and Rachel Muldoon’s sparkling Dahlia give way to gore and terror as Hyde starts to overcome Jekyll and the bodies pile up. It’s not for the squeamish. Swan Lake it is not, unless someone was strangling all the swans.

Grant Olding’s eclectic score emphasises the splits in personality, with scintillating jazz for Jekyll and heavy electric guitar music for Hyde. Soutra Gilmour’s set design evokes a creaky 1950s Waterloo where evil deeds dissolve into the smog.

Jekyll & Hyde is the McOnie Company’s first collaboration with the Old Vic under the new Artistic Direction of Matthew Warchus. It’s an ambitious and commanding entrée that has drawn new audiences to dance theatre in its too-short run. McOnie says “I want people to walk away feeling terrified, thrilled and a little bit horny.”

The show’s powerful physical effect on the audience – gasps, intakes of breath, a standing ovation – suggests he’s succeeded in at least some of these aims. It should transfer immediately to terrify, thrill and arouse a wider, perhaps unsuspecting, audience.

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