By April Austen | @aprilausten
It’s a trip back to London 1887 in Martin Dunlop’s 2018 MICF show Jekyll and Hyde: The Sequel.
The three-person show (featuring stand-up comedian Lauren Bok, and performer and television writer James Ferris, alongside Dunlop) is a scripted, three-act performance rather than a stand-up show – full of set changes, accents and props. Prepare to sit back and be taken on a journey from psychiatric asylums, to the sewers, to the Queen’s bedroom – and beyond.
The scene is immediately set with a scrolling introduction video, which is littered with jokes that play on the audience’s assumed knowledge of Victorian era London. Dunlop stands impressively still at the side of the stage whilst the audience finds their seats and through the entire video; so still that it’s almost surprising when his character turns around and comes to life.
This show is clearly aimed at people with a knowledge of the original Jekyll and Hyde as well as historical London, however pop culture references are thrown in that are hilarious even if you don’t understand all the history.
The 50-minute comedy covers a huge array of topics, from the royals to women’s sport to high uni fees and parenting. The pace is fast, and topics are flown through, keeping the audience on their toes and with hardly any time to wonder what is coming next. Married at First Sight gets a mention, alongside Harry Potter and Fight Club – there’s a little something for everyone.
At times, Dunlop and his team stumble over words and lose their rhythm, but their clear enthusiasm and enjoyment in performing the show lets them proceed with a sense of humility and comedic self-deprecation. Their improvisational knack allows them to make a joke out of mistakes and is part of the joy that comes from watching a live show.
The room is filled with the mirrors that are mentioned in the introductory blurb, presumably designed to play on the themes of identity and multiple personalities that defined Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale Jekyll and Hyde. However, the mirrors fail to live up to this role: only occasionally being glanced at by the actors and easy to ignore or miss depending on your seat in the audience. The one mirror on stage is dramatically unveiled only to be turned around quickly and never referenced again.
A highlight of the show is the double personality scenes performed by Dunlop. He’s excellent at switching between characters, allowing him to have intense arguments between his two personalities without them even slightly merging together.
The Sequel, while entertaining, will be underappreciated by those who don’t understand all the joke references. Martin Dunlop’s show is great for anyone who is a fan of Jekyll and Hyde, or Victorian London – but if you’re not, just go get a quick lesson from someone who is!