Watch theatre company's Jekyll and Hyde production on YouTube
- Credit: The Company of Players
With theatres in the county currently closed due to lockdown restrictions, companies are having to get creative while the venues are dark.
The Company of Players is one such theatre group, having branched out into Zoom productions, and now a lockdown film-play, a hybrid genre of movie and online show.
Following on from the success of their first Zoom streamed production, Gleaming for an Instant, in October and then Girl Walks Into A Bar, generously presented by Shattered Windscreen Theatre Company, the Company of Players completed their next digital production and aired it for two nights on Zoom, with free tickets ‘sold’ through their box office.
The Strange Case of Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde, like Gleaming, was written by a CoPs member.
Laura Ilinca had originally penned her adaptation of the famous novel by Robert Louis Stevenson with the intention that it could be performed on stage at the company’s home, The Little Theatre in Balfour Street, Hertford.
When she set out on her project, Laura hoped that it would have been possible to play to a small, socially distanced audience in the theatre itself and to live stream to a wider audience over the internet.
The succession of changing rules throughout the year and, finally, the introduction of tougher new tiers, made this dream impossible and Laura had to return to the drawing board to readapt her own adaptation.
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Laura has set the story in Hertford and it contains several local references.
She said: “It’s been a long lockdown for everyone, and everyone’s life has been affected.
“A group of friends from Hertford is struggling with the disappearance of their friend, Henry Jekyll, and the appearance of a strange, unknown man named Edward Hyde, in their life.
“It’s very cold out there, in December, on the streets of Hertford...”
The finished film, which runs for about 90 minutes, features footage filmed by the actors in lockdown isolation in their own homes, as well as scenes recorded during Zoom sessions.
Harry Harding, last seen at CoPs in the role of the Priest in Thomas Tallis, plays the dual role of Jekyll and Hyde.
He is supported by other actors, well known for their performances with CoPs in the county town and Welwyn Garden City’s Barn Theatre. Among them are Josie Melton, Pat Sunners and Darren Barsby.
Beatrice Hart, the love interest, is played by Amy Vince, a newcomer to CoPs, better known locally for her work with The Lytton Players.
Laura and her partner, Richard Martin, have skilfully edited all the disparate parts together, linked by some wonderful photography in the great outdoors around Hertford and neighbouring WGC.
Premiering on YouTube later this week, viewers will delight in recognising some familiar landmarks in the production.
The two Zoom screenings reached an audience of around 200 and, from 8pm today - Friday, January 8 - you will be able to watch the film on YouTube via this link https://youtu.be/gT0yF6Rj1l0
As with the previous digital offerings from the Company of Players, viewing the performance is free. However, any contributions towards the company’s plans to improve the audience experience at the Victorian schoolroom theatre and to make the building more versatile as a rehearsal space will be very welcome.
The Little Theatre was formerly the infants’ School of Christ Church, which was built in 1868.
In the late 1960s, the church was demolished and the land and adjoining schoolhouse were put out to tender by the Church Commissioners.
Due to the generosity of a then anonymous well-wisher, the company was able to make a successful tender and in February 1972 the building and adjoining land were purchased.
The theatre seats 63 and is equipped with a dressing room, a technical control room, in-house communications, CCTV and storage facilities.
In 1998, an extension to the theatre was built, providing a foyer and additional storage facilities.
Proposals now include enlarging the foyer, enabling full access for disabled people, providing new toilet facilities, and extending the backstage area.
Donations can be made to the Theatre Redevelopment Fund via www.crowdfunder.co.uk/cops-theatre-development-fund