In a world of repetition, sequels, derivatives and that wonderfully notorious obsession we like to call “postmodernism” I find humour has had very little to say on the matter of classics. I’ve watched just about every spoof under the sun from “Austen Powers” to “Nutty Professor” and of course “Black Adder’s Christmas Carol”. It seemed about time I quit trying to peruse the lucid beast called originality and jumped on board the spoof train.
The idea was simple, instead of referencing the classic tale of Jekyll and Hyde with some cleverly written pun names for characters and a half-baked plot I decided to take the half-baked plot that was already there and make upside down pudding out of it.
What if Hyde was our protagonist? What if the kind hearted were seen as vulgar and dull? Reversing the plot in concept seemed like an amusing take on the tale.
What I found in the process of researching the original Robert Louis Stevenson novella and “following in footsteps of better men” was just how close the play was in aligning itself “beat for beat” with the original novel’s concepts of conformity and the Victorian identity. I relished in taking the footnotes of the novella and twisting each moment to my whim; a terrified Mr Enfield speaks of a horror known as the cruel Hyde. In my version I painted much the same picture with a splash of colour in the macabre portrait, “He’s a huggable looking man!” Enfield says of Jekyll with complete horror.
Stevenson depicted a dull world rocked by horror and shock. I find thanks to our ever-growing awareness of our world’s horror and shocks as depicted on news and social media it’s harder to rattle the minds of viewers in the way Stevenson’s Hyde did, so instead I looked to Jekyll’s kindness and naivety. Kindness is hard to come by in the cloud of misery that we tend to get engulfed by; it’s an odd thing to come by kindness, so much so that we tend to disregard it in the aggregate.
We love our villains and as such have often made our heroes into destructive vigilantes. We love to watch suffering and no one is as good as Hyde in that department. So what to do with Jekyll? That is the question? Jekyll like most kind people has no powers, has no authority and in many ways is the invisible man of our culture. He is alien to this world, a brilliant foil to our gritty obsessions. What he represents is an old era long past when heroes weren’t defined by flaws but altruism in its purest form.
In writing there is a term called “save the cat”. Simply that, if the protagonist does something good like saving a cat they will be liked by the audience. In “Hiding Jekyll” I shot that cat!
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