8 August 1888
AT THE OPERA COMIQUE.
Although it is unfortunate that two plays based upon one novel should be produced simultaneously in London, there are so many points of difference between the Lyceum version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Mr. Bandmann's at the Opera Comique, that they are, to all intents and purposes, two distinct productions. In both, of course, the main idea of Mr. Stevenson's work of fiction is preserved - that is, that Dr. Jekyll, by certain chemical preparations, creates or awakens the baser part of human nature, which he believes to exist in every man as the counter-part of the good in him; and then, too late, he finds he has toyed with a fatal thing; that the antidote becomes gradually a mere temporary refuge, and eventually powerless, so that in the end the evil influence is predominant, and he is compelled to die as Hyde the Satyr, having lost the ability to continue as Jekyll the Saint. As the story runs, Dr. Jekyll loves, and is beloved by, a beautiful girl, who, despite the difference of age, is fascinated by his talents; but, in one of those sudden transformations which are the result of the drugs he has taken, he murders her father, being discovered in the act by her, but so mis-shapen, so altered in voice, aspect, and everything, that she does not recognise him. Then follows the endeavour to track down the murderer, the supposed Hude; and in various scenes the whole of the dramatis personae, the daughter of the murdered man, the detective, the policemen, Dr. Lanyon, who was his friend, and Mr. Utterson, a lawyer, are always on the point of getting him, but are baffled for the simple reason that as soon as Hyde can obtain access to the antidotal drug (if the term is admissible) he emerges from his laboratory in triumphal innocence as Dr. Jekyll. The question, therefore, through is - "where is Hyde?" And until the doctor one night appears in the form of Hyde in Dr. Lanyon's studio, and in his presence drinks the potion while having his back to Jekyll, no one but the audience is supposed to know that the two are one and the same. In both plays the end is alike. Dr. Jekyll has only sufficient of the drug to keep his own better self for a brief time; then he becomes the monster Hyde, and, poisoning himself, so dies. But, in Mr. Bandmann's version, the most notable feature is that the human interest is a more important element. The love of Sybil (as she is called in this play) for Dr. Jekyll is brought into greater prominence, and there are many tender scenes between them. Again the gruesomeness of the play is relieved considerably, instead of being accentuated, as at the Lyceum. We do not get the thunder and lightning and other grave accessories; but instead we have some familiar church music sung sweetly by choir boys, and in one scene a part-song of merry childhood; we have a comic policeman, and a slight flirtation with a cook; we have other light touches to relieve the somber character of the play; and, most distinct of all differences between the two productions, Mr. Bandmann takes more pains to make Dr. Jekyll the hero than to horrify us with his portrait of Hyde. Mr. Bandmann's Dr. Jekyll is a much better performance than Mr. Mansfield's; and his Hyde is proportionately weak. He certainly makes Hyde horrible; but he does it by the help of a wig of uncouth make, and two or three long teeth, more like the fangs of an animal than the teeth of a human being. These things he assumes in the changes while the lights are down, and they may be regarded as mere hanky-panky, and not in any sense as acting. Nevertheless, Mr. Bandmann's conception of the part evidently meets with the approval of the audience, for he is very heartily recalled at the end of each act. As Sybil, the vicar's daughter (for the Opera Comique version introduces a vicar instead of an ex-general), Miss Louise Beaudet has many opportunities of displaying some effective acting, and these are not lost. She is very successful in the scene where her heart struggles between her love for Dr. Jekyll and her filial desire for vengeance on the murderer of her father. Miss Ada Neilson is repulsive as the old hag Mrs. Vilney, and miss Liliam Secombe in the slight part of Lilliam Utterson looks pretty, and acts in a charmingly childish manner - which is all she is probably designed to do. As the detective, Newcomen, Mr. Allen Thomas is good; and O'Brien, the Irish policeman, is humorously played, so far as opportunities go, by Mr. Eardley Turner. Mr. Sudney Prince, the Vicar, who appears with the choir boys in the first act in surplice and full canonicals, looks well the part; and Mr. G. H. Leonard is a fair representative of the astute lawyer Utterson. Mr. Henry Loraine's Dr. Lanyon is scarcely the Dr. Lanyon of the book, but in one scene with Sibyl he won the sympathies of the house. Mr. Stanislaus Calhoun's Poole, the ancient butler, is exceedingly clever, and other small parts are creditably filled. Mr. Stedman's choir-boys sing the church music very well, and are encored for the part song, "Rock-a-bye, Baby" with immense enthusiasm.
ATTACKED BY THREE MEN.
John Holland, aged 28, a bricklayer, was attacked by three men and stabbed in the abdomen this morning, between twelve and one o'clock, in the Bethnal-green road. Holland was removed to the London Hospital, where he remains in a critical condition. Two of his assailants are in custody.