On the radio: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Despite being set in London, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is the most Edinburgh of novels. I can’t be the only one who imagines the Scottish capital (or at least the literary version of it) when reading the book, having to be reminded that the story is, apparently, supposed to take place in London. This reimagining by Neil Brand of the legendary doppelganger tale moved the narrative to its rightful home and then moved everything around too so what was presented was both reassuringly familiar and intriguingly different. How apt.

As the introduction by David Tennant made clear: by now everyone knows the twist so what can you do? In this case, you alter the two people piecing the case together from men to women thus making them outsiders despite their education and experience. The idea of outsiderdom recurs with the creation of a child labour case and the rights of justice therein. Meanwhile, Hyde’s darkest desires continue. Jekyll noting down the changes by means of wax cylinders. No “Mary had  a little lamb” here.

The story moved along swiftly with the BBC thankfully broadcasting it in one 90 minute slot rather than giving us a two-parter.  The acting was solid – sadly the webpage doesn’t list any names – and I liked the soundscape, in particular the anguished stretch as Hyde appears from Jekyll. This was, overall, a fine example of working with well-known source material and creating something fresh.I wt

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