Posts Tagged ‘Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll and Hyde Play’

The show is just a weekend away, so panic is setting in. I’ve started having those nightmares where you’re at the play and everything goes wrong. Like you realize that all your fellow actors have turned into pineapples and you have to do their lines for them.

Our gorgeous Chemical Imbalance poster

Lauren Wilson’s play Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll and Hyde Play is a hilarious take on Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr HydeThe play, unlike the original novella, pokes fun at everything starting from the concept of duel nature (Dr. Jekyll is pretty darn evil to begin with) to our idea of what Victorians were like to the evil twin trope.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde poster from the 1880s.

Working on this play was a real treat. There is slapstick, unbridled humor and an opportunity to overact and ham it up. I was playing Plodgett  the Cook. And a Scottish cook, at that. I will be issuing a formal apology to Scotland, its people and all cooks who may have been offended by my performance. As it happens, I had to do (and I use the word ‘do’ very loosely) a Scottish accent. It was more like Chekov trying to imitate Scotty while drunk (mind the Star Trek reference).

I’ve never read the original story and can’t say if the adaptation is very different. My general impression is that Victorian gothic horror is not very subtle. The narrative is often drawn-out and dull, while the individual elements are over-dramatic. Yes, I’m looking at you, Dracula. I think thta’s why most of these stories serve as perfect comedy fodder. The line between the dramatic and ridiculous is so fine that one tiny step will take you to the other side.

We tend to think of Victorians as incredibly polite and proper and I love how Wilson uses that idea for comedic effect. All the characters are trying so hard to keep up the appearance of normalcy and propriety while there is a maniac running wild and attacking dogs and policemen. In fact, the range of crimes that Mr Hyde commits is pretty silly – he kills a dog, gets a baby damp in a fountain, tramples a Christmas wreath and flattens a pigeon. He eventually works his way up to murder, but he takes a while to get there .

It’s hard to say if Wilson was trying to use this black comedy to make a point about society and our attitude towards violent crime, but in the end the maid gives a little closing speech reminding us that when Mr Hyde was caught the “world was once again  safe for the rich and dangerous for the poor” which I thought a very apt point.  And so the status quo is reestablished.


Read Full Post »

Since I’m a theater geek (please refer to the blog title), I do quite a bit of theater. I love directing, acting, even the occasional play-writing, but one of my ruling passions is costuming.

My theater group, Thespians Anonymous, is putting on Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll and Hyde Play (two weeks ’til showtime) and yours truly was in charge of costumes. They were a delight. I’m not a huge fan of modern costumes, they look too much like everyday clothes; but historical costumes are always fun and a nice challenge. Especially when the setting is a semi-fictional Victorian England. You can go pretty mental with the concept. The whole scene is pretty macabre with dark shades and ruffles, lace and pearls.

The cast of Chemical Imbalance, Thespians Anonymous. Image by Stuart D. McQuade

The men are proper Victorian gentlemen, albeit late-Victorian pushing on Edwardian. Thank God, men’s fashion has been chnaging so very little over the decades. The older ladies are flirting with the Belle Époque, while the younger ones are ready to embrace the Gibson Girl look.

Matrons Euphronia Jekyll & Lady Throckmortonshire. Image byby Stuart D. McQuade

You can read my full post about the costumes and see more fabulous pictures HERE.

Photographs by Stuart D. McQuade.
Please do not copy or reproduce without permission. 

Read Full Post »