The beast within us?
Robert Louis Stevenson’s book was published in 1886 and only now I feel his complex themes are more pertinent than ever. There have been many renditions of the Jekyll and Hyde Musical that have focused on the outer shell of his compelling story. They have portrayed a piece of theatre that they assume the audience want to see: smoke, mirrors, pyrotechnics; good vs evil; with a typical musical theatre set-up.
Interpretations of the musical have seen the perception of Jekyll and Hyde as 2 separate entities that are often exaggerated and caricatured. For me, they are not binary. Jekyll and Hyde is one person and so the parameters of each persona are incredibly minimal and the inward struggle is far more important than showing it physically. Hyde often supersedes Jekyll, but this should not necessarily be the case.
Whilst the underlying idea is the battle between good and evil, most productions, for me, have not touched the inner most core of the characters that this story deserves.
Our story focuses on the people of London; here the characters we see on stage are the projection of what society deems as ‘normal’. What we do not see is what goes on behind closed doors – what happens in the privacy of their bathroom - who they truly are without the pressures of society telling them who they should be. There is a constant battle between ‘good and evil’.
But is ‘good’ really the way we think it is? Or has society told you it is this way? People are too scared to stand out for fear of taboo and lack of acceptance. Except one man: Henry Jekyll. Here we see an intellectual man who has (what society deems as) ‘everything’; yet he is not satisfied and wants to fight for what he believes in and in our musical we see the lengths that a man will go to gain control of his life that is not necessarily believed fitting for a man of his social stature.
Within that, I urge you see how the other characters allow his tragic downfall to happen. It is incredibly comparative to how people in today’s society sit back in fear of standing out and being wrong. Every one of us has a Hyde inside them.
Jekyll and Hyde is a musical that is transcends our lives - for the wrong reasons. This is a compelling statement that has drawn me into wanting to direct this musical the way I have done. I want to bring this gothic classic into modern day and go beyond the shallowness and the normality that currently invades our modern lives.
My objective as a director is to challenge you. I want to not only change your perception and make you see that the duality of man is not plain black and white - it is not good and evil; but to also make you challenge your views. The line is very much blurred, and I dare you to come and make your own mind up….
Kelly-Kim Cranstoun Director of Jekyll & Hyde The Musical