Between the H for Hyde and the J for Jekyll comes ‘I’. But, who or what is that ‘I’?
15 years after his Fringe First nominated play ‘Ultimate Islands’, Michael Daviot re-visits Robert Louis Stevenson in the world premiere of ‘Hyde & Seek’ to tell his audience how R L Stevenson saved his life.
Daviot is a local Edinburgh actor and writer with a fine reputation, strong presence and a certain old world charm which is well-suited to this one man show, in which he promises to look unflinchingly at “identity, family, memory, dreams, mental health, addiction, nationality and all the things that give us a sense of self – an ‘I’ to see the world through”.
Appearing at Edinburgh’s monthly ‘5 Minute Drama’ at the Serenity Café on the 5th of July, Daviot performed a short excerpt from the play. With honest confession and Daviot’s renowned humour, he proved that his promise is likely to be fulfilled with a performance that is entertaining and mesmerising. ‘Hyde & Seek’ looks set to affect audiences just as Daviot hopes it will, with people thinking as they leave, “I must go and read some Stevenson / find out more about Stevenson”, or “pondering the fineness of the line between ‘sanity’ and ‘insanity’ and how delicate and damaged we ALL are, and how amazing it is that so many of us manage to create identities and lives for ourselves”.
When asked about his favourite Stevenson piece, Daviot chose ‘The Beach of Falesa’ as “one of RLS’s South Seas stories which, along with The Ebb-Tide, shows a very different RLS to the cliched image; a very modern, anti-colonial, world writer who paved the way for the likes of [Joseph] Conrad”. For a biography of Stevenson, Daviot finds G.K. Chesterton’s to be “peerlessly sensitive, wise and witty”. Useful information, if you are looking to expand your knowledge of this famous Scottish writer.
Of course, you can also gain insight by seeing the show itself: part biography of Stevenson, part autobiography, ‘Hyde & Seek’ charts 50 years during which RLS and his work have woven through Michael Daviot’s life at key moments, some of great joy, some of great sadness, some of dreadful confusion and unhappiness, but all steps along the path to self-acceptance, guided and inspired by the example of Robert Louis Stevenson.
Jekyll and Hyde were born in a nightmare, as was Daviot’s obsession with Stevenson. Aged six, he pulled from the shelf a copy of Jekyll and Hyde illustrated by Mervyn Peake; the book fell open at his picture of the morning after the first involuntary transformation from Jekyll to Hyde – a gnarly, nasty hand hanging out from under the bedclothes. Several years of nightmares ensued. The young Michael was hooked!
And now, he is ready to hook you.
Venue: C nova, Studio 1, venue 145, Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Dates: 30 July – 25 August, Time 18:35 (1hr00)
Ticket prices £8.50-£10.50/concessions £6.50-£8.50
C venues box office 0845 260 1234 / www.CtheFestival.com
Fringe box office 0131 226 0000 / www.edfringe.com
‘A gem of a play. Beautifully written, sensitive and intelligent.’ (The Scotsman ***** for Ultimate Islands.)