Gothic drama showcases both sides of star Phil

Phil Daniels
Phil Daniels
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Quadrophenia and EastEnders star Phil Daniels will be showing the two sides of a classic gothic character when he comes to Blackpool next week.

The actor and Parklife vocalist will star in the title role of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde at the Grand Theatre from Tuesday to Saturday, March 27 to 31.

And he took time out to speak to the Gazette about his role in the adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic .

How would you describe this version on the classic story?

It’s set in Victorian London so it’s traditional in that respect and it’s quite close in many respects to the book as well, but it delves into Dr Jekyll’s personal life a bit more.

There are more female characters in it, like his sister, and it explores how his father – who started the experiment which Dr Jekyll continues – was never very nice to him in his lifetime.

What’s your take on the dual characters of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

When I first spoke to Jenny King – the show’s producer and creator of the Touring Consortium Theatre Company – about Jekyll and Hyde.

I was interested in the way sometimes when people have a drink they become different people.

You know, they can be as good as gold one day but as soon as they’ve had a drink they become snarling animals.

I was interested in that and approaching the characters from a point of view that, even though there is a liquid that Jekyll does take that turns him into this monster or which exposes the darker side of his personality, that darker side is in him already. He just releases it.

What are the challenges for you as an actor?

It’s about making it as real as possible – that there are two aspects of his personality and not just a crazed animal that’s come out of nowhere. It’s about finding out why Dr Jekyll is also Edward Hyde.

What I don’t want to do is make Hyde just evil, I want the audience to make their own mind up about who’s the worst out of the two of them or who’s the best, which facets of each character they like or appreciate and which facets they don’t.

That’s the challenge – to make them both credible people. One might be a villain and one might commit a murder but it’s because of the other one’s personality that he does it.

Why do you feel theatre audiences love a good stage thriller?

If there’s a story that captures your imagination and has a beginning, a middle and an end, where something might happen or might not happen, it’s quite thrilling.

The Jekyll and Hyde story is just one of those stories that’s always caught people’s imaginations.

What twists does David Edgar’s play spin on the well-known story?

He gets at the heart of the story. He tries to give a reason for Jekyll and Hyde’s breakdown, where Jekyll’s father gives him no credit but he gives the daughter credit instead.

There’s a secret in the past between the sister and the brother that’s quite violent so it’;s not just Hyde who’s the violent one, there’s something violent in Jekyll as well.

That’s interesting about Edgar’s script; he gets deep into that. Plus, with characters like Lanyon and Utterson there’s a debate going on within the play about Victorian England, how the poor are being treated and whether it’s because of society that people do bad things or because of the binary system of our personalities.