Review: Jekyll and Hyde – Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2022 (VIC)

Written and performed by the Slightly Isolated Dog Company

Review by Justin Clarke

Who knew that Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella, Jekyll and Hyde, could make for a riotously hilarious hour of comedy?

Andrew Paterson, Jonathan Price, Comfrey Sanders, Susie Berry and Jack Buchanan pull out all the tricks the cabaret to perform their spin on the classic tale. It was immediately obvious as we entered the venue that these performers want you to be as much a part of the production as they were. We were greeted by Jack Buchanan’s ridiculously French Bastien as he easily struck up conversation by complimenting my eyes. Around us we could see each of the performers sitting (at a COVID-safe distance) and asking the audience questions that ranged from what their jobs were, to how their day was and showing a genuine interest in gathering as much information from them as possible.

This led to gags like Jonathan Price’s tumultuous and heartbreaking relationship with audience member Tiff, and his desperation for Caitlyn with the Instagram hilariously made for an Instagram Live broadcast. Forever floating around in a well held leaning pose that made me feel sore, Comfrey Sander’s Ginger managed to recall names and details to aid in the punchlines of her fellow performers.

Transitioning into the Jekyll and Hyde story with a motif of everyone having a darkness inside of them – but we push it down – we were then taken through the cabaret twists and turns. A smattering of songs with some impressive rap thrown in by Susie Berry’s Lily was played to great effect. Sound design by Sam Clavis was so well timed that it matched audience members firing guns, smashing windows or reading off writing boards, making the interactive spectacle that much better.

A Slightly Isolated Dog are the first comedy act this year that I’ve seen incorporate COVID restrictions and gags into their performance as if it were meant to be there. Using a socially distanced pole with a rather large knob on the end – and yes, Andrew Paterson’s Julie made best use of that innuendo – as well as Glen 20, and “pre-sanitized” bags of props, the pandemic gags were a great extra layer of joke-fodder.

This was a well-paced, slick and strangely heart-warming production of Jekyll and Hyde. A perfect start to a night of laughter that will make you feel the most welcomed you can be in a cabaret performance. And even better – it feels like it is made specifically for you and the audience on the night. Jekyll and Hyde is an absurdly funny, seductive and well written night of theatre that comes highly recommended.

Reviewer rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Jekyll and Hyde plays at The Count’s and the Trades Hall – ETU Ballroom until 24 April. Find tickets from $25 – $30 here.

Follow A Slightly Isolated Dog on Instagram @aslightlyisolateddog. Find more info about them on their website.

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