With new play ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ coming to the Key Theatre this week, we spoke to the play’s writer
If someone offered you a potion to take you back to a younger version of yourself, would you take it?
When playwright Nick Lane injured his back following a car accident, he often thought whether he could go back and change his circumstances.
So the 47-year-old used this experince when readapting The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, which will be shown at Key Theatre on Jannuary 30.
He says: “I had been an actor for a number of years but then I injured my back in a car accident in 1996.
“I was filming The Moonstone for the BBC in Norfolk and it was my day off so I decided to drive to Cromer by the sea.
“I was a mile out of Cromer when there was a white van parked alongside a pavement.
“There was a red Vauxhall Corsa waiting to go round it and I pulled up behind that.
“There was a big Audi behind me which hadn’t seen that we had stopped and he hit me and pushed me into the car in front like a concertina. It spun me into the road.
“I injured my back, which exacerbated a pre-existing condition and limited my opportunity to work as an actor.
“I was lucky enough to work with John Godber, and with my association with Hull Truck Theatre Company, I began to pursue a career in writing.
“The theatre company allowed me the choice to adapt the books I wanted, including Frankenstein, a Christmas Carol and Elves and the Shoemaker.
“I was particularly keen to do The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde as the idea of changing into somebody else was a focus for me, having two lives: one before my accident and one afterwards.
“I thought about myself. If someone offered me a potion which would make me feel the way I did before my accident but everyone would think I was horrible in exchange, would I take it?
“Your ego would try to convince yourself that you were a likeable person and no-one would think you were horrible. You would be tempted to try it. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it would be hard to go back in.
“There is a question of what makes us a man? Is it the body or the mind?
“I made Dr Jekyll physically broken but mentally alive and active, with Hyde physically perfect, but mad and dangerous.
“By thinking of my own circumstances, I allowed myself to play on that.”
Nick adds he has stayed faithful to the original book by Robert Louis Stevenson, but has created a female character.
He says: “For those who know the novel they can expect an exploded version of the story. It is very faithful to the book but I have added bits as the story is originally 50 pages long. I was aware there were no decent female roles so I added Eleanor, who was an Irish immigrant and do you were seeing things from another point of view.
“She influences Jekyll and there is a love triangle as she is engaged to Jekyll’s best friend but falls in love with Jekyll for his brilliant mind and allowing her to learn. There is also an interesting dynamic with Hyde.”
Nick, a father-of-one from Doncaster, began his acting career when he was a child, starring in an episode of Emmerdale Farm, as well as Casualty and Grange Hill.
He has also been in films, including Up and Under, The Innocent and The Fix.
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde comes to the Key Theatre on Jannuary 30th.