Tuesday, April 20, 2010

An old review of my play DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE

This is an old review from 1991 of the play that my film DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE was adapted from. Bottom line about the stage -to-screen adaptation: the script was changed drastically. Here's a review by Winifred Walsh that surfaced recently on-line, originally published in the Baltimore Sun in 1991.

New Century's 'Dr. Jekyll' is nearly flawless

October 10, 1991|By Winifred Walsh | Winifred Walsh,Evening Sun Staff

A splendid version of the ultimate psychological thriller "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is on stage at the Spotlighters Theatre through Oct. 27.

This excellent new adaptation by the show's producer, director and star, Mark Redfield, in collaboration with actor Stuart Voytilla, is faithful to the original Robert Louis Stevenson novel. The very sophisticated, intellectual work presents, as Stevenson intended, the fascinating tale of the good and evil warring within us in the form of a good, old-fashioned mystery.

Redfield's production under the banner of New Century Theater is the best of its kind this reviewer has ever seen. All the parts are perfectly cast down to the most insignificant character.

Although originally written for the proscenium stage, the work plays well in the limited confines of the arena theater.

The classical language is vintage Stevenson. The mood is eerie, spooky and chilling. Scenes have intriguing symbolic and abstract undertones. The sparse, black-and-white surrealistic imagery designed by Redfield and carried out by scenic artist Kelly Phillips is extremely effective.

Redfield's direction is masterful -- practically flawless. Every actor has a proper attitude for his or her role and all interact beautifully -- always making important eye contact.

Timing and character development are superb and the suspense is hair-raising.

The marvelous fight sequences were arranged by Lewis Shaw.

Set in 1890 London, the play opens with the accounting of the dastardly deeds of a man called Hyde, a beastly, brutal creature without remorse or pity.

The evil Hyde, somehow, has access to the house of the kindly Dr. Henry Jekyll. Franklin Utterson, Jekyll's longtime loyal lawyer, is worried that his friend is under some dark threat by this man who has committed a number of foul crimes. He enlists the aid of others to unravel the puzzle.

Dr. Jekyll is a man of inherited wealth. Imbued with a deep feeling of compassion for the less fortunate, he divides his time between the poor hospital wards and his private practice.

Impressed with Darwin's evolution theories, he engages in research to determine the biological base for the good and evil in man. He wants to set loose and separate the shadowy elements of the primitive human psyche. He eventually finds these qualities in the form of the pernicious Hyde.

Redfield plays both roles. As the upright, uptight, gentle Jekyll and the horrifying Hyde crouching ape-like and wild-eyed around the stage, he is magnificent. A consummate professional artist, Redfield's attention to the finer details of his character is matchless.

Not a bad review; I have a feeling that somehow my writing partner, Stuart Voytilla, and I, always imagined the story somewhat cinematically. Working on the play, and the first year working with my theater company New Century Theater, were certainly some creatively (and personally) grand times. One of the most thrilling and satisfying in my little career. More on the play in future articles coming up.


  1. This is fantastic! I can still vividly remember seeing this at the Spotlighters on St. Paul. To this date, it still remains one of my all-time favorite and most memorable theatrical experiences. I recall telling Don about your incredible performance and how you were just as awesome as Fredric March in the role. After almost 20 years since that one weekend evening at the Spotlighters, I'm still of the same opinion. :)

  2. Now I'm jealous that I never got to see this production- you know i loved your work in the film,but to have seen you on the stage in this story would have been truly wonderful...;o)