Reimagined Jekyll & Hyde theatre and film experience to reopen Leith Theatre
Robert Louis Stevenson's classic gothic horror The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is to be reimagined for Leith's historic theatre building
The National Theatre of Scotland is to join forces with filmmaker Hope Dickson Leach to turn the 19th century story into an atmospheric theatrical experience, which will reopen the 89-year-old venue to the public in February.
Audiences will enter a live film set for the show, which will be streamed into cinemas across Scotland after its run in Leith and will be shown in feature film form on the Sky Arts channel in 2023.
Leach and Vlad Butucea will be adapting Stevenon’s original novella for the new version, which will be filmed in black and white, and relocated to Victorian Edinburgh.
The audience in Leith Theatre, who will be served cocktails from special Jekyll and Hyde-themed bars, will experience the show wearing headsets and watching the drama unfold on a large screen in its transformed auditorium.
NTS’s official announcement states: “The drama follows Gabriel Utterson as he enters a world of dark duplicity to uncover the identity of the mysterious Mr Hyde and the hold he has over Utterson’s old friend Dr Jekyll.
"In this version, Utterson’s journey is set against the background and backdrop of Victorian Edinburgh, where the wealth of the breweries is contrasted with the poverty of the Cowgate Vaults, exposing an underbelly of dark truths and corruption.
"Bewitched by the society of Edinburgh’s rich and powerful, Utterson soon discovers that behind the glossy façade of power there is a grim and brutal reality."This is a Jekyll and Hyde reworked for a contemporary audience with themes of power, class and masculinity brought to the fore.”
Hope Dickson Leach previously worked with NTS on the acclaimed film Ghost Light, which was filmed around the Festival Theatre while it was closed in the early stages of the pandemic.
She said: “Jekyll and Hyde is a masterpiece by one of Scotland’s best storytellers deserving of a groundbreaking and challenging interpretation. What better tale to explore hybrid storytelling?
"Working with the National Theatre of Scotland to create this innovative piece has not only allowed me to collaborate with
some of the most talented theatre and film makers in Scotland, but also to explore the narrative and formal questions that inspire me as an artist.”
NTS artistic director Jackie Wylie said: “We’re thrilled to be kicking off 2022 with The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, in partnership with Selkie Productions, an ambitious retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s legendary novella, offering a one-off experience to audiences who can experience it being filmed in the iconic surrounds of Leith Theatre.
"We have been increasing our digital and screen presence over the last two years with a programme of unique hybrid projects created to respond to the challenging times of Covid to ensure we can continue producing thrilling theatrical works for audiences, working with the best artistic talent in Scotland and extending the number of people we can reach.
“Conceived during lockdown as both a live experience and as a feature film, we are delighted to be working at Leith Theatre for the first time and to renew our creative relationship with the brilliant Hope Dickson Leach, following the success of Ghost Light.”
Lynn Morrison, Leith Theatre’s chief executive, said: “We are so excited to bring such innovation to Leith and be the home for this exciting film and theatrical production.
"It will not only showcase the versatility and beauty of this incredible theatre but will help us to share its story and journey of restoration, both of the building itself and as a permanent place on Edinburgh’s cultural landscape.
"Over the past two years we have been fortunate to host many film productions and photography shoots as part of Scotland’s burgeoning creative sector, however, this is something really special and we cannot wait to share it with all of our in-person and digital audiences, far and wide.”