No matter what version, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” always digs into the split nature of every person.
In playwright Jeffrey Hatcher’s new adaptation on stage at Park Square Theatre, that’s much more than a simple good/evil division. Instead, it becomes a multi-faceted exploration of each character, with Dr. Jekyll showing his darkness and Mr. Hyde (or Hydes, as explained below) revealing some touches of humanity amid all his darkness.
With that in hand, a strong cast and solid production bring Hatcher’s Edgar Award-nominated script to full life. Steve Hendrickson digs into the many faces of Jekyll, crafting a character full of the flaws that would bring out a Mr. Hyde. Emily Gunyou Halaas also makes a good mark as Elizabeth, the woman whom Hyde and Jekyll covet.
The balance of the cast — Stephen D’Ambrose, Peter Christian Hansen, Jean Salo and Alan Sorenson — split up Mr. Hyde. This not only keeps the audience off balance — you never know which actor will transform next — but also builds on the whole notion of multiple personalities. This is especially striking in the moments when multiple Hydes interact with Jekyll.
Director David Mann handles all of this action with clarity, keeping a story that can get both confusing and preposterous on track and engaging. The entire production, from script through performances to design, brings out the truths that Robert Louis Stevenson wrote in the original — truths that have kept the story alive through the past century and a half, and ones that move the story far beyond its penny dreadful roots.
“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” runs through Feb. 8 at the Park Square Theatre, 20 W. Seventh Place, St. Paul. ($15 to $39). 651-291-7005 or online.