Holidays got you down? Prefer humbug to good cheer? Commercials and annual, inescapable in-store music causing indigestion? There’s a cure for that. Get down to The Soho Playhouse, where Blanket Fort Entertainment’s “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” is tearing up the stage. Written and performed by Burt Grinstead and Anna Stromberg as part of the Fringe Encore Series, this is a clever, comedic take, based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” — at breakneck speed.
With an ingenious puzzle of a set that functions as the laboratory of Dr. Jekyll, a hotel room, the London docks, the inside of a stately home and more, Grinstead is superb as the inarticulate, insecure Jekyll, whose study of good and evil after his brother’s execution never quite gets off the ground; while his Hyde is an arrogant libertine (and yes, a murderer) who is nevertheless strangely attractive to women, despite serious olfactory issues.
Remember the quote about Ginger Rogers, that she did everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in heels? That is what I thought of while watching the genius of Anna Stromberg. I lost count of how many male and female characters she played: ten? Thirty? Fifty? In the program, there is no character breakdown, only the apt “Everyone else.” And with only one or two inventive costume tweaks and lighting design, courtesy of Matt Richter and Adam Martin, she was singular as every single one. Stromberg also directed. If she’s not busy in 2020, perhaps she’ll run for President.
This “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” is original and exciting. It will make you laugh, keep you watching with rapt attention, and chase all of your holiday blues away. I can’t wait to see what Blanket Fort Entertainment, Grinstead and Stromberg’s new company, comes up with next.