A white man in a dark suit, holding a test tube, stands left. On the right is a Black woman in a plum-colored Victorian skirt suit, looking toward him. A table with a glass tumbler is in front of them.
Shane Richlen and Brandi Jiminez Lee in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at Idle Muse Theatre Company Credit: Steven Townshend/Distant Era

Idle Muse Theatre Company’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is good, dark Halloween-season entertainment, especially if you’re a fan of the Hammer/Amicus/American International Pictures-style of lurid rethinkings of Victorian horror classics. Adapted by Michael Dalberg and directed by Morgan Manasa, this production ups the sex-and-violence aspects of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 story of morally upright Dr. Henry Jekyll, who concocts a potion that transforms him into wantonly murderous Edward Hyde—the embodiment of Jekyll’s own hidden evil urges. 

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Through 10/23: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, the Edge Off-Broadway, 1133 W. Catalpa, 773-340-9438, idlemuse.org, $20 ($15 students and seniors, $10 Thu industry nights)

Dalberg’s crisp, epigrammatic script turns Henry Jekyll into Henri Jekyll (Brandi Jiminez Lee), whose ambitions are thwarted by the sexism of London’s medical establishment. Henri is romantically drawn to her straitlaced solicitor, Gabriel Utterson (Shane Richlen), as is he to her. But demonic, lustful Hyde (the commanding Jack Sharkey) keeps intruding, eager to wreak vengeance on the men who Henri feels have wronged her, including fellow physician Hastie Lanyon (Joel Thompson) and corrupt aristocrat Sir Danvers Carew (played by understudy Ross Compton at the performance I saw). 

Having Jekyll and Hyde played by separate actors deprives the audience of a transformation scene, traditionally the high point of Jekyll/Hyde movies and plays. But there’s plenty of payoff in the alter egos’ heated arguments—the external manifestation of Jekyll’s interior monologues—and the malevolent glee with which Sharkey imbues Hyde is delicious in the ripe Vincent Price/Christopher Lee tradition. Sound designer L.J. Luthringer’s pounding techno background music adds a contemporary intensity to the Gothic tale.