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Interview with Jekyll and Hyde cast

The cast of Blackeyed Theatre’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde sit down to talk about the upcoming show, coming to Theatre Royal Winchester in March 2022.

Blake Kubena – Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde
Zach Lee – Gabriel Utterson
Paige Round – Eleanor Lanyon
Ashley Sean-Cook – Hastings Lanyon.


What are you looking forward to most about The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde?

Blake: Apart from the sheer thrill of performing to a live audience again, I’m very much looking forward to exploring so many new parts of the UK. This will be the first time I’ve visited or performed in nearly all of the scheduled destinations, and I can't wait to engage with the audiences in each. Especially after being stuck in one place for so long!

Zach: The rehearsal period has always been my favourite part of any job. Working on and learning about the characters I’m going to play is a puzzle I always look forward to.

Paige: I absolutely love working with gritty plays. I fell in love with The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde on the first reading and I'm really looking forward to allowing Eleanor to grow throughout the whole process. I'm looking forward to that metal-boned corset too... the whole production and telling audiences a really great story!


Blake, you’ll be playing the dual role of Jekyll/Hyde in this production. How do you approach creating characters that audiences are so familiar with?

Blake: I think when approaching a very well-known character, you have to try and meet them as if they were written yesterday, don't take anything for granted, and do your best to avoid the shortcuts of playing a cultural archetype. Fortunately for me, Nick Lane has written a very fresh take on the character and story of Jekyll & Hyde, so it is a bit easier for me to work on him without too many preconceptions or baggage. Hopefully, we can treat audiences to something unexpected and immediate within this very familiar story.  


Ashley, this is your second tour with Blackeyed Theatre. What did you learn from the first?

Ashley: When I have toured previously, I learned that teamwork, having a sense of camaraderie is essential. Sometimes you have good days and sometimes bad days, but last year I made some wonderful friends and performed in some fantastic venues. Apart from the huge learning curve our puppet friend took us on last year, I feel like the tour of Frankenstein as a whole was a giant step up for me in terms of stage practice! Not that I am complaining though, as it was always exciting visiting new places and adapting to their surroundings.


Zach, you’ve worked with Writer and Director Nick Lane previously. What can audiences expect from one of his productions?

Zach: I’m really proud of all the shows I’ve been involved in with Nick. During rehearsals the scripts get honed down so they are tight. I’ve never known an audience to drift off during one of his shows. His adaptations are always faithful to the original works but always with Nick’s spin on them. He brings a lightness of touch to working with actors; allowing them always to feel like it was their idea in the first place. When moments need to be mean and nasty, as they undoubtedly will do in a piece of this nature, Nick will bring that to the table too. And you can always be guaranteed some funny bits.


Paige, Eleanor is a character that’s been created by Nick Lane for this adaptation. What are you hoping Eleanor will bring to the story?

Paige: It's amazing that Nick has created a major female role in a predominantly male-orientated story. It's so important, especially for young women, to see strong female characters portrayed on stage. Eleanor seems so worldly and unafraid of grabbing whatever life throws at her. When I first read the adaptation I couldn't imagine her not being in it. She brings such strength yet compassion to the text; fuelling different aspects of Jekyll’s character and enhancing the contrast with Hyde. She's a woman ahead of her time and it's brilliant to be able to portray that.


What do you hope audiences will take from seeing the show?

Paige: I hope they take away with them questions about the scientific discoveries that were first coming to light at that time. Doctors were experimenting and coming up with theories about the psychological differences between individuals and what made minds work in different ways. How did these physiological problems arise in people? What could be done to help them? I also hope they take away the sense of love that can be felt between two people; even through the darkest moments there is always good in people.

Blake: As actors fortunate enough to be making work after such an extended dry spell, we have an obligation to be particularly open and generous with anyone who comes out to see us. My hope is to connect with as many audience members as possible, both during and after the show, and that we will all come away with a resuscitated love and awareness of the necessity of live theatre.

Ashley: When we performed Frankenstein, we faced a huge task of depicting a story Hollywood had already morphed into something different. The story of Jekyll & Hyde is so well-known in popular culture that the secret of Hyde’s relationship with Hyde, which was originally revealed at the end of the story, is no longer a secret! Despite this, I think there’s a very strong sense of humanity and moral choice in the play that’s entirely relevant to modern audiences. My main aim for a show is always for an audience to feel something from what they watch and I think this story is perfect for that.


The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde comes to Theatre Royal Winchester Thu 3 – Sat 5 March 2022.

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