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Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

    

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Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde • April 19–May 6

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The darkest side of human nature seems to be endlessly fascinating to us; we struggle with our own unsavoury impulses, and complain bitterly upon seeing evidence of the same in others. Most of us hide the “worst” of ourselves, even as we revel in watching dramatized “bad guys” put their terrible deeds on display.
Sadly, our fascination with darkness can lead to mistrust of ourselves and each other. Embracing and healing the “shadow self” is counterintuitive, and runs against our collective cultural consciousness, which features pitiless rejection and punishment of the “demons within,” and constant admonishments to resist the wily influences of an external, evil force, which is forever tempting us to succumb.

In the Gothic tale written by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, reformation is definitely the goal of the good doctor’s efforts to distil his own darkness. He means to make a valuable contribution to humanity, yet ends up running a ghastly deficit instead.

Langham Court Theatre is bringing to life playwright Jeffrey Hatcher’s new staging of the old story, and co-director Keith Digby says of Jekyll, “He seeks to cure evil, but gets trapped within it. The original story was written in the decade of Dracula and Jack the Ripper, though completed before either Stoker’s book or the grizzly events in Whitechapel.”

Of Hatcher’s adaptation, Digby says, “It’s an elegant horror that’s highly theatrical in this version, seeming almost akin to a Medieval morality play, but Jacobean in nature.”

When asked if the play seems more relevant somehow in this über-dark era of the new American President’s administration, Digby answers: “If the audience members do draw a link with current US realpolitik, I hope it’s in the bar afterwards, when, after consuming a couple, someone says, ‘Hey, you know what...’ A little later, Jung’s ‘shadow’ and Freud’s ‘dualism’ will pop up…and they are relevant to this remarkable story, which presaged both.”

Langham Court Theatre presents Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, co-directed by Keith Digby and Cynthia Pronick. April 19-May 6. Tickets go on sale March 20, langhamtheatre.ca or 250-384-2142.
—Mollie Kaye

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