Anyone heading to the Basement Theatre expecting to see a conventional re-telling of Jekyll and Hyde - with a straight narrative thread and Victorian-style sets and costumes - might be disappointed with A Slightly Isolated Dog's production.

That disappointment won't last for long if you can go with the flow and adjust to a style of theatre not ordinarily seen: playful, energetic, silly and spirited where having fun, and playing with the art form, is the main aim.

But a word of warning to those who don't like interactive theatre; this show relies heavily on audience interaction with the five laugh-out-loud funny performers reacting and responding according to cues the audience gives.

That said, it's not all uncontrolled madness and mayhem; on the contrary, part of its charm lies in the way the cast - Samuel Austin, Susie Berry, Andrew Paterson, Jonathan Price and Hayley Sproull - keep up a frenetic but structured pace which keeps the story moving and the laughs coming.


The show starts as the audience take their seats, with performers meeting and greeting everyone before explaining they're a French theatre company - wickedly silly accents and all - performing their take on Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

While it's not explained, director Leo Gene Peters has said making the company a French one allows it to up the comic ante by exaggerating stereotypes about things like sexy French accents and joie de vivre.

The source material is adhered to extremely loosely, but that's okay (Dr Jekyll still gets to come over all malevolent and My Hyde eventually gets his comeuppance) because it's a joy to watch the cast morphing in and out of various characters, meandering from the story then deftly bringing it back and using a range of basic materials to create all manner of weird and wonderful props.

The design team - Meg Rollandi, Debbie Fish, Blair Godby and Peters - along with techie Sam Clavis - deserve mention because of the "special effects", especially sound, they've paired with the onstage action. The timing is impeccable and that's vital to the success of a show like this.

The 75-minute production is nothing if not a riotous celebration of what happens when you decide to create something silly but imaginative, entertaining rather than educational. And if you do happen to find a darkness within arising because the show's heading somewhere you didn't expect it to go, just push it down, sit back and enjoy.

What: Jekyll and Hyde
Where & when: Basement Theatre until Saturday, July 15
Reviewer: Dionne Christian