from an original work by Robert Louis Stevenson
Evan Placey's Jekyll & Hyde is a radical re-imagining of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 gothic novella, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. It was commissioned by the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain, and first performed by the company at the Ambassadors Theatre, London, on 27 September 2017.
The play opens in the Victorian period, after the death of Dr Jekyll (the culminating event in Stevenson's novella). Jekyll's widow, Harriet, is trying to continue her late husband's work, which results in her developing an alter ego as a violent, forthright prostitute, Flossie Hyde, who isn’t going to be exploited by anyone. But the world of the story is increasingly disrupted by glaring anachronisms until, at the end of Act One, the twenty-first-century world breaks through in the form of a new plot concerning a young woman called Florence Monroe, who is blogging a story about Harriet Jekyll, and using it to incite rebellion and public violence against patriarchal authority.
In an Introduction to the published script, Evan Placey writes: 'I was conscious, when working on my version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, that it was a process of reimagination, rather than simply adaptation. Not only was I writing for a new genre, but I was writing for a new generation. I wanted to preserve the heart of the novel whilst making a new work that would stand in its own right, and so it made sense to me for my play also to explore some elements of the story that Stevenson’s novel had not.
'Revisiting the book I was struck by the invisibility of women. Aside from two fleeting characters in two fleeting moments, they don’t exist. They’re not allowed to be part of the story. And so I started to imagine what the stories were for the unseen women in the book and what the narrative would be like if a woman were to take the reins.
'The repression of the female characters from the novel slowly became the main thing I wanted to explore in my adaptation – especially the idea that if society represses specific groups, they have to go to extremes to liberate themselves.'
The National Youth Theatre production was directed by Roy Alexander Weise with set design by Laura Hopkins. It was performed by Elizabeth McCafferty (as Harriet Jekyll), Marc Benga, Jenny Walser (as Florence Monroe), Scott Oswald, Rosella Doda, Leah Gaffey, Joanna McGibbon, Douglas Wood, Amarah Jae St. Aubyn, Rebecca Hesketh-Smith, Curtis John Kemlo, Leo Shirley, Megan Burke, Eddie-Joe Robinson, Jamie Rose and Mohammed Mansaray.