ONE of the most famous horror stories in history has been brought to life on the stage of the Alhambra.

Victorian gothic classic Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde began a five night run at the theatre last night.

Starring Phil Daniels, of Eastenders and Parklife fame, the play is an adaptation of the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson which follows London gentleman Dr Jekyll and the aftermath of his experiments into the divided human psyche.

His obsession with the dual nature of humanity leads to the emergence of Mr Hyde, a brutish, twisted version of himself.

The idea of Jekyll and Hyde is probably familiar with most people, with versions having seeped into pop culture ever since it was published. Personally I was probably introduced to the character/idea through a Loony Tunes cartoon.

However, far fewer people are familiar with the actual story, which is a critique of Victorian "decent" society and the violence brewing just beneath the surface.

The story is just as relevant as ever in the modern world. Today seemingly respectable people think nothing of creating their own Hyde-like online personas, attacking and demeaning others from the anonymity of a computer screen.

And with the recent disclosures about the sexual misconduct of well respected public figures, watching Jekyll become the lascivious Hyde is particularly timely.

And much of the horror in the story comes not from jump scares, but a fear that we all may have a Hyde lurking below the surface.

This version of the story, adapted by David Edgar and directed by Kate Saxon, makes a number of changes to the story, the main one being the addition of female characters to a story that had no named women.

The Alhambra stage is transformed into Victorian streets, a country estate and Jekyll's laboratory - where Hyde is "born."

Despite the impressive sets, the most striking aspect of the staging is the sound. Loud noises add to the feeling that Hyde is wandering a London street, or that Jekyll is riding a train. And as the audience arrives to their seats a deep, ominous sound is played, creating a sense of dread and the underlying fear that something is brewing beneath the surface.

Daniels takes on the difficult role of playing a character that has to swing between two wildly different personas. As well as a huge personality change, he has to physically play a different character, hunched over and shorn of any restraint.

Due to the over the top - unrestrained nature of the role, Daniels' performance of Hyde sometimes veers from the threatening to the absurd. However, for the most part he successfully portrays the buttoned down Jekyll, the manic Hyde, and, as the play progresses, a character that is a mix between the two.

Although the play features several scares and disturbing scenes, it is the idea it plants in its audience's heads - that we all might have a Mr Hyde inside us, that stays with you long after.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde runs at the Alhambra Theatre until Saturday. For tickets visit