"Highgate Horror has the formula!"
by Cameron Dunham for remotegoat on 21/08/14

One man shows are always an interesting prospect: done well, they are absorbing and showcase an actor at the very top of their game; anything less than this, however, runs the risk of being entertaining for all the wrong reasons. Thankfully, Mark Waghorn’s solo performance of “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” is so good that it belongs far more in the former category.

Waghorn differentiates his cast of characters with an accomplished sprinkling of accents, physical tics and postures which effortlessly communicate differences in age, class and emotional state. My companion for the evening described him as “certainly giving one hundred and ten percent” and this is true: the energy level of his performance does much to engage the audience throughout this fifty five minute drama.

I’m guessing that this production is a labour of love for Waghorn as he also scripted the piece. He manages to combine a variety of different voices in an entertainingly cohesive fashion whilst remaining remarkably faithful to Stevenson’s novella.

The stage set is minimal but the few props contained are the ones that you would want: Hyde’s heavy walking stick for dishing out abuse? Check; ostentatious goblet for quaffing mind and body changing formula? Check; medical case containing more chemicals than Walter White’s school satchel? Check. There’s also some atmospheric lighting and sound, I actually jumped at the screams of Hyde’s trampled, child victim.

This is a faithful and well-acted version of a horror classic which retains a relevance to the modern day: Is Dr. Jekyll’s state altering potion so different to the drugs we use today, either recreationally or medically? How far can the story be read as an allegory for alcoholism or other addictions? Waghorn is light touch on these matters but this leaves the production open for the audience’s own interpretations.

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