TR Robertson – The second play of NC Rep’s 42nd Season is a wonderful adaptation by Jeffrey Hatcher of the classic novella by Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This is the third Hatcher play on the North Coast Rep stage. “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” is filled with intrigue, moral dilemma, ethical and psychological conflict, and wonderful performances by six veteran actors. The play has been so well received it has been extended until November 19th. The Scottish author Stevenson, writing 30 novels, completed his novella about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1885. The novella caused a stir in Victorian England as they dealt with Stevenson’s concept of man’s “beast within”. Supposedly, he wrote the story after awaking one night from a nightmare. In 1897, Luella Forepaugh adapted the story for its first stage performance.
Photos by Aaron Rumley
The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has been analyzed, discussed and dissected ever since it appeared in print. The story deals with multiple themes and topics ranging from the moral and ethical considerations about science experiments on humans, to discussions about the consequences of your actions, to are people inherently good or evil, to the daily choices of doing good or evil actions, to the whole concept of multiple personality disorders and other psychological considerations. All of this hangs over a tale involving murders in Victorian London and the bizarre medical procedures practiced during this period of time. It is most certainly an ominous and macabre tale.
The beauty of the NC Rep production, directed by Shana Wride, is the wonderful atmosphere created on stage with the performances, timely lighting and background music to create a mood on stage to present Stevenson’s tale. You know this is going to be a tale of doom and gloom with the opening scenes beginning with a dead body on stage. The classic Victorian costumes for the performers also fit the mood of the play as they are primarily black, white and gray mixes. Four of the six actors play multiple roles using costume and accent changes to clearly present the various characters.
Returning NC Rep performer Bruce Turk plays Dr. Henry Jekyll and is a perfect obstinate, conflicted and morally challenged doctor. In the initial stages of what he has created he actually believes he can “morally harness our bestial instincts” of what his experiments have led to. Ciarra Stroud returns to the NC Rep stage playing Elizabeth Jelkes, the chambermaid and love interest of the “evil” Mr. Hyde. Ciarra’s Elizabeth is also a lost soul and the source of another psychological discussion as she falls in love with Hyde knowing he has killed people.
The remaining four actors play multiple roles, each one presenting Mr. Hyde in various stages, at times haunting Dr. Jekyll as he falls deeper into psychological misery. Christopher M. Williams plays Hyde and Jekyll’s lawyer Gabriel Utterson. Katie MacNichol plays Hyde, Jekyll’s butler Poole and several other roles. Jacob Bruce plays Hyde, O.F. Sanderson, Richard Enfield and gives a tremendous performance as Sir Danvers Carew, the teaching physician who is the cause of great moral conflict with Dr. Jekyll. Bruce, MacNichol and Williams are all veteran performers of past NC Rep productions. Each actor presents their characters with distinctly different accents making it easy for the audience to understand who they are. Each gives a slightly different performance for the “evil” persona of Hyde. Performing the main manifestation of Hyde and making his NC Rep debut is Conner Marx. Marx also plays Jekyll’s friend and medical board member Dr. H.K. Lanyon. He has performed in numerous television shows and regional Southern California theatre. Marx brings an eerie, at times scary, at times sad interpretation to Hyde. We don’t want to feel sorry for Hyde because he is a killer, but you almost feel for him since he did not bring Hyde out, the “good doctor” did. This Hyde remains in check in most of us, representing, for some who have analyzed the story, Freud’s id, ego and superego. This becomes Jekyll’s mistake as he tried to “isolate the beast in man’s nature so I could kill it – driven by desires”.
This well-designed production has the following Design Team: Stage Manager Cindy Rumley, Movement Director Jason Paul Tate, Set Designer Marty Burnett, Co-lighting Designer Matthew Novotny, Co-lighting Designer Erik Montierth, Costume Designer Elisa Benzoni, Sound Designer Melanie Chen Cole, Prop Designer Phillip Korth, Dialect Coach Emmelyn Thayer and Assistant Sound Designer Caleb Foley. The easy to move staging and props, great lighting effects and ominous background music makes this production flow smoothly from scene to scene.
This is an absolutely must-see production at North Coast Repertory Theatre. The performance has been extended until November 19th and tickets are available at 858-481-1055 or go to www.northcoastrep.org. The performance is a PG-13 rating due to the depiction of violence on stage, but this is also handled with great care and key to the story line.