N.C. State University Theatre’s current production of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, directed by Mia Self, features a 2008 script by Jeffrey Thatcher, adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella, the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The story is at least marginally familiar to us all. Everyone has heard of the scientist who drinks a potion and becomes his “other self,” his own “evil twin.”
We are all further aware of the ensuing struggle between the main character’s two personalities. Indeed, there is an actual term — the “Jekyll and Hyde Syndrome” — that is used in psychological evaluations and studies. What most of us do not know is how Stevenson chose to unravel this tale and the strange way in which the conflict is finally resolved. Self’s direction of Hatcher’s adaptation of Stevenson’s novella offers an entertaining way to bridge that gap.
The pace is brisk. We move seamlessly from scene-to scene: now on a London street, then in a room, then a hospital, then an office, then a park, then a brothel…. There are a total of 28 scenes. As the story progresses, the tension mounts. The choice of using four actors to portray Edward Hyde is interesting and does enable some poignant effects at times.
Under David Jensen’s technical direction, the show is a feast for eye-and-ear. The set (designed by Jayme Mellema) is lavish. Pay particular attention to the arced backdrop; changes there augment the mood of the action onstage. Set changes take place inconspicuously behind (or beside) the action.
The sound and light (designed by Joshua Reeves) are brilliant. Costumes (designed by Laura J. Parker) are appropriate for the era and for the specific characters.
On opening night, April 7th, however, we found the acting to be a bit weak. From our back-of-the-house seats, it was difficult to hear some of the characters. And some of the actors may have been suffering from opening-night jitters.
That said, we do want to commend the chemistry between Nico Peaks’ Jekyll and the various Hydes. And we would also like to tip our hats to Mary Elizabeth Lemmon, who gave us a superb Elizabeth Jelkes.
From our Department of Picky-Picky:
- While the use of multiple Hydes enabled some very interesting effects, the doubling of actors who played other characters in the roles of Hydes #2, #3, and #4 did lead to some confusion at times.
- The transition into the first hospital scene would have worked better had the corpse been already on the table when rolled in.
- The “break-down-the-door” scene could use a smoother, less conspicuous set-up.
(We suspect that these have been addressed and remedied already.)
SECOND OPINION: April 8th Raleigh, NC CVNC review by Alan R. Hall: http://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=7921. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the April 8th Triangle Review review by Martha Keravuori and Chuck Galle, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2016/04/dr-jekyll-mr-hyde-is-an-entertaining-and-thoughtful-evening-of-drama-and-fright/.)
N.C. State University Theatre presents DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE at 7:30 p.m. April 9, 2 p.m. April 10, 7:30 p.m. April 13-16, and 2 p.m. April 10 in Titmus Theatre in Frank Thompson Hall, 2241 Dunn Ave., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
TICKETS: $20 ($6 NSCU students, $12 students, $16 NSCU faculty and staff, and $18 seniors 60+), except $12 on Community Night (Feb. 17th).
BOX OFFICE: 919-515-1100 or http://purchase.tickets.com/buy/TicketPurchase?organ_val=22089&event_val=HYDE.
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886 novella): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strange_Case_of_Dr_Jekyll_and_Mr_Hyde (Wikipedia).
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (e-text): http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/42 (Project Gutenberg).
Robert Louis Stevenson (Scottish writer, 1850-94): http://www.robert-louis-stevenson.org/ (Edinburgh University) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Louis_Stevenson (Wikipedia).
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (2008 drama): http://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=3985 (Dramatists Play Service, Inc.).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Jeffrey Hatcher (playwright and screenwriter): http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/109903 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0368774/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Hatcher (Wikipedia).
Mia Self (director and assistant director of acting and directing at University Theatre): https://theatre.arts.ncsu.edu/our-team/ (University Theatre bio) and https://www.facebook.com/mia.self.31 (Facebook page).
Pamela Vesper has been a Raleigh resident for more than 20 years. A local attorney for licensed professionals, when she’s not in court, Pam can be found watching or participating in local theater productions or enjoying the vibrant Raleigh music and craft beer scene. She also loves indie and foreign films and was an anchor on the local cable show, Movie Minutes. Pam has an opinion on just about everything; just ask her. Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.