Synetic Theater Jekyll & HydeBy Xandra Weaver • Sep 25th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
Synetic Theater in Crystal City, Arlington, VA
Through October 21st
Warning: Violence, gunshots, sexual situations, smoke
Reviewed September 23rd, 2012
Theater has been pushed to the level of performance art in the new production of Jekyll and Hyde on Synetic’s stage. The gruesome journey of one man as he battles his darker nature has become a wordless tragedy of love contrasted with depravity. This is a silent horror that gets beneath the skin, and unabashedly displays the worst that human nature can be when unleashed. No doubt about it, moments of the play are downright horrific and evil, and set on the stage with such utter professionalism and talent that one almost feels it could be real.
The original story is very much elaborated on with the locations and costumes of the theater. The director chose a steam-inspired technological punk feel to emphasize that it is technology itself that can bring out our darker side when misused. So although the feel of the set was of an alternate Victorian universe, the message is very relevant to the here and now.
One side of the stage was dominated by a machine which displayed various media recordings, to enhance the understanding of the experimentations of the Doctor, and to serve as a storytelling vehicle. At one point, Jekyll’s battle against his darker side culminates with Hyde trapping him in the largest of the screens. As he fights to get out and free his love, Hyde joins him in the screen to taunt him, and so we get a wonderful moment of the two locked in physical battle as they gyrate and dance around each other, a moment impossible without technology to duplicate the actor.
The cast was superb. Alex Mills as Jekyll was sweet, engaging and bumbling as he worked tirelessly on his inventions. Alex Mills as Hyde was sadistic, cruel, and utterly insane. Hyde’s take on the world is that of chaos and need, like a lunatic mix of Joker and Clockwork Orange‘s Alex DeLarge. His control on the world goes far beyond evil, into absolute psychopath. As a warning, rape and torture are portrayed in representative dance, and wickedness brought to life with expression and exquisite choreography. Alex Mills is a powerhouse, limber and precise, demonstrating insane contortions as he transformed into Hyde, and menacingly commanding presence as Hyde began to take over everything.
The supporting cast was every bit as incredible, with unflagging energy and emotive powers that transcended words. An addition to the story created half human half machine hybrids that were the chief experiments of Dr Jekyll before he created the serum. These were brought to life by ensemble members who gyrated and moved in completely mind-boggling ways, creating the illusion of more than human creations that then became the minions of the mad Hyde.
The costumes also brought life to the alternate universe world of the play. All aspects of the costuming conformed to the technological world in which the story advanced, and each costume conveyed information about the person wearing it. This, my friends, is how you do Steampunk.
Finally, the journey taken by the characters was in some ways completely unfulfilling. The show does not leave one with answers, or comfort, only questions on issues that easily bridge the gap between the legend and reality. Visually stunning, morally stark, and beautifully told, this reincarnation of Jekyll’s battle with his dark side is like none seen before.
Photos by Johnny Shyrock
- Jekyll and Hyde: Alex Mills
- Fiancee: Brittany O’Grady
- Lanyon: Peter Pereyra
- Stripper: Rebecca Hausman
- Ensemble: Austin Johnson
- Father: Darren Marquardt
- Ensemble: Julian Martinez
- Ensemble: Karen Morales-Chacana
- Ensemble: Chris Galindo
- Ensemble: Jace Casey
- Ensemble: Julian Elijah Martinez
- Ensemble: Emily Whitworth
- Understudies: Kathryn Connors and Robert Bowen Smith
- Director: Paata Tsikurishvili
- Adapted by: Nathan Weinburger and Paata Tsikurishvili
- Choreographer: Irina Tsikurishvili
- Set designer: Daniel Pinha
- Costumes: Chelsea Schuller
- Lighting: Andrew F. Griffin
- Original Music: Konstantine Lortkipanidze
- Sound Design: Konstantine Lortkipandze and Irakli Kavsadze
- Multimedia Designer: Riki Kim
- Stage Manager: Donna Stout
- Production Supervisor: Erin Baxter
- Technical Director: Phil Charlewood
- Assistant Stage Manager: Amanda Rhodes
- Assist. Costume designer: Corey Dunn
- Assoc. Lighting Designer: Brittany Diliberto
- Carpenters: Bill Rohrer and Steve Ross
- Prop Designer/Crew: Eugene Stohlman
- Scenic Painter: Daina Cramer
- Wardrobe: Claire Cantwell
- Master electrician: Aaron Waxman
- Lightboard operator: Micah Manning
- Sound Engineer: Thomas Sowers
- Multimedia Technician: Kenny Reff
- Multimedia Board op: Igor Dmitry
- Production intern: Nick O’Leary
- Seamstress: Anna Blanchard
- Costume Intern: Evelyn Marina
Disclaimer: Synetic Theater provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/8665.
Xandra Weaver has a great love of the process of theater and the creation of art that has led her into working both behind the scenes and onstage. Her career includes working for many years providing sound and lights for both professional and amateur shows as well as makeup work for a feature film. At college, she specialized in makeup to earn her theater degree, and discovered a love for directing and playwrighting. She's also been a nominee for the DC area theater WATCH awards for her work with the company of The Producers with The Arlington Players.