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Double Identity and Feelings

Lyman High School’s Lymlight Production of Dr. Jekyll an and Mr. Hyde was excellent. It was nice being on my old campus. I was anxious to see the adaptation because I had taught the classic novella only a few weeks earlier at The Ampersand School.
The interpretation of the diaries, the epistolary effects of disjointing, and mixing monologue with flashback was great and came through clearly. The device of the magician’s presto-chango door was kitschy yet clean and effective.

Using the Victorian period’s phenomena of bodysnatching, and burgeoning science butting heads with spiritual ethics as a story arc showed understanding. The brothel asides were distractingly hideous.

I have a few very specific complaints. The stage work, acting, lighting, music, direction and passion are not among them. The inappropriate female dress across the board and the adaptation’s use of highly sexualized characterization are. If this were in any other theater, I’d be fine. In a high school, not so much. When the Man Servant, Poole, is reimagined as a female, it doesn’t follow that a distinguished Dr’s. head mistress would be dressed as a can-can extra for the Moulin Rouge.

It didn’t escape me that the highly stylized production was closer to rock opera than Victorian classic stageplay. The only thing missing was a Meatloaf solo. It came off a little closer to Rocky Horror Picture Show then Robert Louis Stevenson
I suppose my gripe is with the author of the adaptation: Jeffrey Hatcher. The Hyde character’s emotional enmeshment with Elizabeth and his resulting concern of the safety of this hooker, fails big time. Hyde has no conscience. To have him scare away a woman for her own protection is squarely in contrast to the alter-ego’s purpose. It only serves to invite shallow melodrama into the wannabe rock opera.
Again, having a high school cast lose the books meaning, in favor of a reality show plot, is not why I applauded. The great acting certainly was.

I can’t be the only one who knows it’s inappropriate to shove a teenager into a bustier and heels and claim it’s okay because it’s a performance…can I?

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