KATHERINE MacALISTER talks to the star of Creation Theatre’s one-man show Jekyll & Hyde

Michael Palmer, AKA Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde in Creation Theatre’s new production, raises his arms dramatically to the sky and says: “Let it rain, let it do its absolute worst!”

That he is performing at all is a miracle, and down to the benevolence of Oxford residents and their staunch support of this theatre company which has defied all odds and re-emerged leaner and meaner every year, having been washed almost away in the floods of the past few years.

Firmly stationed inside Blackwells in this, Creation’s latest foray, the sun blazes down mockingly outside and Creation staff are taking bets that come August when their production of Henry V is being performed outside Oxford Castle, the rain will appear from nowhere.

And yet the Victorian Gothic setting of Robert Louis Stevenson’s most famous play is more at home in the Norrington Room than in the sunshine, and the perfect opening to the Creation summer season.

Rising to the challenge, Michael will attempt not only to play all the multi-faceted characters himself in this one-man show, but to complete it within the hour. So is he confident about being all things to all people?

“Well I dig deep,” he says smiling. “I’m always looking for a degree of spontaneity, to always make it brand new and I have a loud voice and am good at taking on different personalities and moving between characters. But I also enjoy physical theatre, and this is pretty active.”

Of course, Michael can’t give too much away, although anyone who’s read the book will know what to expect.

And yet isn’t it hard to play such a fictitious character?

“Yes and no. There’s very little to base it on, but it does give you free rein as Hyde is rarely described in the book. We know he is ‘ape-like’ and pure evil, so I’m hoping for good lighting and lots of noise for the metamorphoses.”

For those of you who don’t know the story, Michael explains: “It’s about a Victorian man fettered by how own morality who reveals his bloody nature and dual personality through a central character.

“But you don’t get to see what Hyde does – I scamper off and leave it to your imaginations, but it’s spooky as heck,” he promises.

Lucy Askew, Creation’s chief executive, adds: “We chose Michael for the part because he’s brilliant and when you watch the play you engage with all the characters and forget its just Michael out there. And with an audience of just 100 it will be very intimate and atmospheric because it’s a thriller, so it’s fast-paced and very exciting.” In fact, it’s hard to tell who’s more excited, her or Michael.

“Well, we have planned this for two years,” Lucy says, “and the thought of doing Jekyll & Hyde is what got us through, so it’s a big moment for us. This is the dream.”

Jekyll & Hyde runs at the Norrington Rooms in Blackwells from June 8-July 13, with eight shows a week often including two showings a night and matinees.

Go to www.creationtheatre.co.uk or call the box office on 01865 766266