Warren Players: Jekyll and Hyde on stage in ‘Chemical Imbalance’

mChemical Imbalance is a traditional take on the well-known Jekyll and Hyde tale but with a “bordering on slapstick” dose of comedy thrown in to add a whole new flavor to the well-worn story.

We quickly meet Euphronia (played by veteran actor Christopher Snyder in full drag ) and Ambrosia Jekyll ( Olivia Thompson ), Dr. Jekyll’s mother and sister, as well as their two servants, young Ivy (Nyssa Brumagin) and old Plodgett (played by veteran actor Gary Brumagin ). The four characters are listening to carolers through the window when suddenly a crazy brute jumps from an alley and murders the “wee fluffy little dog” of one of the singers. And yes, exactly what you are thinking, the culprit is Mr. Hyde the horribly violent alter ego of Dr. Jekyll, who has invented a dastardly potion that unleashes the pure evil he believes exists deep down inside of us all.

At the same time, Lady Throckmortonshire (played by R. Scott Shriner, also in drag) is being entertained by Euphronia Jekyll as Euphronia works to move into higher social circles. Lady Throckmortenshire is a fancier of unique hats, each more gaudy and gauche than the one before. (The hats alone – designed and created by costumer Dixie Brumagin – are worth the price of admission and truly must be seen to be believed!) Add a Victorian maiden, Rosamunda Dewthistle (Taylor John) who wishes to ensnare Dr. Jekyll as her husband and the stage is set for a three ring circus of fun, mystery and mayhem.

Dr. Jekyll (Michael G. Sternberg) goes through several transformations from Jekyll to Hyde, and back again in a manner somewhere in between high comedy and really creepy with only his cousin Xavier (Zachary Robertson) knowing of his dark secret.

The amazing set, designed and created by Gary Brumagin, takes us from Dr. Jekyll’s living room, to the oversized dining room table, out to the local park and back to the lab. Jekyll and Hyde bound from place to place, in one turn trying awkwardly to avoid the advances of the lovely Rosamunda , and in another, fighting with his often unconscious cousin Xavier, still later chasing the Throckmortonshire twins, Penelope (Naomi Hahn )and Calliope (still Naomi Hahn) to gather ingredients for his mysterious potion and then brutalities. There are nooses, dynamite, knives, potions and other surprises (arranged by props mistress Deb Murphy) and the crazy farce of the second act brings the play to a dark but comic ending.

At times, it seems like the play wants to be a dark comedy and at other times a frightening fable but the cast carries the story along very well. All in all, this is a highly enjoyable production to be filled with lots of gulps and gasps, laughter and guffaws. It’s an early Halloween treat full of tricks and fun.and a delightful way to spend an evening.

Chemical Imbalance, directed by Logan Norris Beard in his directorial debut, is a production of The Warren Players, in association with Dramatist Play Service and will be presented at The Struthers Library Theatre at 8 p.m. on Oct 10, 11 and 12 and at 2 p.m. on Oct 13. Jeremy Jeziorski has created a series of special effect photos to match the eerie goings on which will be posted at the theater. Ticket prices are $ 14 for adults, $ 12 for seniors and students. The play is rated PG-13 for violence and mature theme.