11 April 2016

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Dramatic Augustinianism


We saw the North Carolina State student performance of an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" Saturday night. NC State does not offer a major in drama so the student actors, from freshman to seniors, had majors in everything from anthropology to zoology. Literally.

Set design and staging were superb, perhaps because there were some engineering students behind the scenes. The  overall acting was good although not of the quality we are accustomed to see at Regent University performances. Of course, most of the performers at Regent are MFA students who have undergraduate degrees in drama so direct comparison would be unfair to the kids from State.

One source of some confusion was the need to have several students perform several roles. In particular, the need to have four different actors portray Edward Hyde proved disorienting. His primary actor, Matthew Tucker, along with Nico Peaks--the only Henry Jekyll--was very good.

It has been a long time since I've read Stevenson's novel so I came in recalling only the vague outline of the story. The dramatic adaptation by Jeffrey Hatcher didn't dwell on the "sci-fi" elements. Instead, he brought out the "Augustinian" perspective of the duality of the human will. Jekyll's "scientific" tincture-based solution to the problem of human evil proved ineffective if not destructive. Even more importantly, Jekyll's philosophical location of the problem of evil in the mind, which meant it could be overcome by the right-thinking human will, was proved fatally wrong. As St. Augustine observed in his Confessions long ago, the problem of depravity goes all all the way down to the depth of our being and cannot be resolved with drugs or even right knowledge, which should stand as a rebuke to big pharma and the educational-industrial complex.

We commend "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and it will continue to show through April 17 so you can go here to buy your tickets.

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