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An imagining of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

  1. The Door

 

Set:   An easily movable DOOR.     It should have a clearly distinguishable indoor vs. outdoor sides.   The door must be practical to the extent of being able to passed through.   It must be easily maneuverable by a single person.   The actors themselves may be required to move it between scenes.   It is an indication, not a prop.   (It might be nice to have a second, much sturdier looking door, in case we want to enact the breaking-in scene.)

 

What is the nature of Hyde’s crimes?   They seem to be fits of unbridled fury, of consuming rage, directed against whoever stands in his way at a moment in time.  The little girl, the elderly minister of parliament.   But he alludes to vastly more crimes whose details he chooses not to reveal.   What are these crimes?

 

Scenes:

I.  OUTSIDE OF DOOR,  (Two gentlemen, Mr. Utterson and Mr. Enfield meet outside the back door of Dr. Jekyll’s laboratory.   They do not know, at this point, that this is the back door to Dr. Jekyll’s laboratory and connects through the house to Dr. Jekyll’s front door.  The audience theoretically does not know this either, though they do know the story, so…Nevertheless there should be a lot of focus on the door itself.   The play is a story about the seduction of crossing the boundary between good and evil and/or propriety-normality and salacious disregard for societal mores.    So the door is ideally symbolic.)

 

Enfield relates what he has observed, i.e. when Mr. Hyde trod over a young girl and paid off her parents using a cheque signed by Dr. Jekyll;  Utterson reveals, directly to the audience, that contents of the will Dr. Jekyll’s has had Utterson, an attorney, store in his safe;  Utterson reveals his extreme unease about the will in the first place, now compounded 1000-fold by Enfield’s story.

II.     Lights down on door and up on TWO CHAIRS — light, wooden. Two men sit across from each other, chatting, comfortably, and amiably: Mr. Utterson and Dr. Ganyon. Utterson wants to learn as much as he can about Dr. Jekyll, seeking to understand how so upstanding a man as Jekyll could leave his estate to so evil a personage as Hyde.  Ganyon has a college of Dr. Jekyll’s for many years.  (Neither has any idea that Jekyll and Hyde are the same person.)   Ganyon, who intentionally has not seen Dr. Jekyll in ten years, reveals that he was deeply troubled by Jekyll seemed to be heading.   Jekyll’s scientific ideas upset Ganyon, though he does not say explicitly what those ideas were. He is also upset about the kind of person Jekyll seemed to be. Perhaps there is a hint in this scene of Jekyll’s hubris and of his wish to separate the good and evil that lurk within all people’s souls.

 

III.  Utterson walks from two chairs back to the DOOR.  Utterson meets Mr. Hyde. Utterson tells Enfield that he intends to find Hyde.   A brief encounter outside what the audience knows as Hyde’s door. Perhaps there is a sense that Utterson’s fascination with Mr. Hyde is itself suspect, i.e. he is seduced in a sense by the same forces that seduce Jekyll.   Enfield tries to get Utterson to give up his hunt, but betrays his similar fascination.   He may be lurking and watching at the moment Utterson’s quest is rewarded by Hyde coming to his door. This is our first sighting Hyde.  He is a small, nasty man who dismisses Utterson abruptly and disappears behind the door.

 

IV.  Utterson meet Dr. Jekyll

 

V.  Hyde murders Carew

 

VI.  Lanyon dies in despair

 

VII. Utterson & Enfield break into lab and find Hyde dead or dying

 

 

5.  Character options

 

Dr. Jekyll/Hyde:  one person?  two persons?  multiple persons?

Utterson:  the lawyer both telling and living the story

The Innocent Young Lady:  A person of superior purity and unearthly beauty

Dr. Lanyon:  another doctor  — very important in posing the “philosophical” questions that are at the heart of the play

Sir  [Millicent’s father in the 1930 version]  ____________

Mr. Enfield:  Utterson’s friend who witnessed the incident where Mr. Hyde stomped upon a young girl.

Poole:  Dr. Jekyll’s butler.

 

 

Enfield and Utterson can easily be either merged or not, depending on who’s available, but a foil for Jekyll/Hyde is essential.

Whether to envision an Sr. _____  depends on whether the character of The Innocent Young Lady is in the play.   The Innocent Young Lady is perhaps difficult to cast. Nell could probably do it.   Easy to cast Sir _____  ;  He’s a useful element reinforcing the moral rectitude of Dr. Lanyon.

 

For the sake of this sketch, I’m assuming Utterson and Enfield.   They are friends of each other and friends of Jekyll.  Easily cast.

 

6. Another possible scenario

(An idea:  Mix video with live action, especially from the Barrymore silent)

 

Set:  A door.  An idea:  Project on this all variations of a door:

Outside of Lab Door facing the street

 

Inside Door of the Lab

 

Inside Parlor Room

 

Another Outside Door.

 

 

 

Time: Now  (NOT long ago)

 

Scenes:

 

All Lights out.  Music.

 

PROLOG

 

Exterior  — Enfield, Utterson.   Enfield i(a la Horatio having just seen Hamlet’s father’s ghost) is trying t express the horror of what he’s just seen.   They both care because of Jekyll’s strange instructions to Utterson to give all his worldly possessions to Hyde if he, Jekyll should disappear for more than a couple weeks.  Both are friends of Jekyll.  Enfield can barely get the words out.

 

If have a young woman who can pull it off:  The Innocent Girl and Her Father — She protests the purity of her love and he objects that Jekyll’s ideas are too strange. Jekyll enters will all his strange ideas.

 

 

Interior Lab — Doctors Jekyll and Lanyon argue about the philosophical implications of Jekyll’s science.  This discussion can go anywhere but should feel current, not “what people argued about in those days.”  Jekyll believes he can do something, through fairly standard scientific practice that is a form of playing God. He believes he MUST do this, but he is not, despite his vehemence, entirely sure he’s right, that he hasn’t gotten seduced into a dangerous path by a very seductive idea.   His motivating force is his horror at an evil within him, that he hopes to somehow eradicate by putting all his evil in another person. His doubt centers on his own motives for doing all this:  He suspects himself of wanting to let loose his most evil ideas.  (There’s a bit decision to be made about what those ideas are or even whether to specify in any way.   Most versions are that his desires are lasciviousness and a lust for violent aggression. The ’41 version was almost more that he wanted two women and this was the only way he could have both.)