“Reimagining History of the Holocaust”
Reviewer: Beverly Yuen
Performance: 15 October 2016
Starring Hitler as Jekyll and Hyde, directed and written by Chong Tze Chien, is a collision of Robert Louis Stevenson’s characters Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and history of the Holocaust during World War II. Mirrors and cupboards that form the set remind the viewers of the possible extremities in each of us.
In the play, Jekyll (Daniel York) is a young painter who is rejected by critics and the art school. The pending frustrations seem to turn him into a monster by night. This parallels the historic Hitler’s real life when he failed the entrance exam of the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna twice in his late teens. York handles the split personality of Jekyll and Hitler with swift transitions and dramatic effect with variations in expression and voice, aided by the changes in lighting designed by Lim Woan Wen.
The frequent shadow play by Lim is intriguing with the actors performing in stylised and puppet-like movements, and providing narratives that drive the plot behind a white screen. Behind the screen, Julius Foo effectively adopts a sarcastic tone and pitch as Mrs Stevenson, the elegant and arrogant art critic who finds fault in Jekyll’s art works to comic effect. In other scenes, he also plays the commissioner with impeccable comic timing in his interactions with the other officers, providing comic relief to the serious theme.
Edith Podesta plays Eva Braun, a blind art sponsor, with a depth of charged emotions. She delivers her crafty lines with a keen ear for the rhythms inherent in them.
While Starring Hitler as Jekyll and Hyde is a witty script superimposed on the contemporary political and social state of Singapore, it ultimately feels like we are presented with an art lesson articulating the key discourses from the art history. This, together with the constant drawing of familiar inferences to scorn the current society we are in, is exhausting especially during the second half of the show.
We are only given some respite with the intimate and well-scripted conservations between the commissioner and his lover (Lian Sutton); and the police inspector (Joshua Lim) and his nanny (Jo Kukathas). These brief moments shift the audience out of the heavily intellectual and philosophical content to a glimpse of emotional intimacy between the characters.
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ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
STARRING HITLER AS JEKYLL AND HYDE by The Finger Players
13 – 15 October 2016
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Beverly Yuen is an arts practitioner, and co-/founder of Theatre OX and In Source Theatre. She keeps a blog at beverly-films-events.blogspot.sg.