The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Pierce Cleveland

This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent

Prologue

(Church, Future: MARGARET, as a nun, speaks to the congregation.)

MARGARET. I pray for the future of humanity. I pray you find yourselves, know who you are, and that you may recognize your secrets. After what I have witnessed, I have learned many unanswered questions regarding the morality of man. To say the least, I know that there are many people here, who have left the other half of themselves at home, hidden in the closet. Who do you let see that side of you? Your wife, your mother, your children? Can you hear the primal ancestor of your brain screaming to be set free from what we accept as sanity? Which man are you? The one you show, whom society deems fit? Or are you the one that you hide?

(Jekyll’s den, Present: JEKYLL sits at his desk.)

JEKYLL. Never have I committed a sinful action.

(He stands.)

This does not mean, however, that I have never sinned. I have thoughts… of wrath, lust, envy… and mostly vengeance. I see the most violent prisoners, and I know what I am capable of. During moments of confrontation, I make the right decision, only because I choose to. Oftentimes, I dream of making the opposite decision. And though my will is strong, I will no longer allow these fantasies to plague me.

(As he speaks he lifts his sleeve, takes a syringe from his bag. He grabs a vial from his shelf and loads the needle up.)

I believe I have found a way…

Act 1 - Scene 1

(ENFIELD and UTTERSON are taking a stroll through the marketplace of the town square. They find a place to people-watch. ENFIELD stares at the door.)

UTTERSON. What’s caught your eye, Richard?

ENFIELD. That door there. It is connected in my mind with a very odd story.

UTTERSON. Indeed? And what is that?

ENFIELD. Well, it was this way, I was coming home from some place at the end of the world, about three o’clock of a black winter morning, and my way lay through a part of town where there was literally nothing to be seen but lamps. Street after street, all lighted up as if for a procession and all as empty as a church- till at last I got into that state of mind when a man listens and listens and begins to long for the sight of a policeman.

(Lights fade off ENFIELD and UTTERSON and into the flashback.)

MOTHER. (Calling.) Mary! Time to come home, Mary! It's well past your bedtime!
(HYDE enters, dragging his feet along the road, and then a little girl skips along from the opposite side. She holds a basket of flowers. She drops some flowers, and as she’s picking them up, HYDE approaches her. He stands and stares.)

MARY. Sir?

(HYDE grabs her wrist and she screams in pain. The mother runs and grabs HYDE. He throws the girl on the ground, and then the mother. He immediately walks back up to the little girl and kicks her twice in the ribs.)

MOTHER. Mary!!!

(HYDE runs to the door. ENFIELD enters.)

ENFIELD. What’s going on here?

MOTHER. Sir, please help! This man just trampled my daughter! I think her ribs are broken! (To HYDE.) When my husband comes home, he’ll find you and kill you, he will!

ENFIELD. We both wish to kill him, madam! But killing is out of the question!

MOTHER. Then find a policeman!

ENFIELD. A policeman may take this scum away, but that will not take care of the poor girl’s broken bones. (To HYDE.) We can and will make such a scandal out of this, making your name stink from one end of London to the other.

HYDE. Name your price…

(Flashback ends, and lights fade back to UTTERSON and ENFIELD in the square.)

ENFIELD. “Name your price.” Well, we screwed him up to a hundred pounds for the child’s family. The next thing was to get the money; and where do you think he carried us but to this door? -whipped out a key, went in, and presently came back with the matter of ten pounds in gold and a cheque for the balance, signed with a name I can’t mention, though it’s one of the points of my story… but it was a name at least very well known and often printed. The cheque was genuine.

UTTERSON. Tut-tut…

ENFIELD. I see you feel as I do. Yes, it’s a bad story. For my man was a fellow that nobody could have to do with, a really damnable man; and the person that drew the cheque is the very pink of the properties, celebrated too, and what makes it worse, one of your fellows who do what they call good.

UTTERSON. And you don’t know if the drawer of the cheque lives there?

ENFIELD. A likely place, isn’t it? But I happen to have noticed his address; he lives in some square or other.

UTTERSON. And you never asked about the place with the door?

ENFIELD. No, sir: I had a delicacy. I feel very strongly about putting questions; it partakes too much of the style of the day of judgment. No, sir, I make it a rule of mine: the more it looks like Queer Street, the less I ask.

UTTERSON. A very good rule, too.

ENFIELD. But I have studied the place for myself. It seems scarcely a house. There is no other door, and nobody goes in or out of that one but, once in a great while.

UTTERSON. (Hesitant to ask.) I want to ask the name of that man who walked over the child…

ENFIELD. Well, I can’t see what harm it would do. It was a man of the name of Hyde.

UTTERSON. Hm. What sort of a man is he to see?

ENFIELD. It wasn’t like a man; it was like some damned juggernaut. He is not easy to describe. There is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable. I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce to know why. He gives a strong feeling of deformity, although I couldn’t specify the point. He’s an extraordinary looking man, and yet I really can name nothing out of the way. No, sir; I can’t describe him. And it’s not out of want of memory; for I declare I can see him this moment. I am ashamed of my long tongue. Let us make a bargain never to refer to this again.

UTTERSON. With all my heart, says the lawyer. (They both laugh.) I shake hands on that, Richard.

Act 1 - Scene 2

(Jekyll’s house. His mother, ANNE, sits in the parlor with her daughter- Jekyll’s sister, MARGARET, who is not a nun yet.)

MARGARET. What I saw outside my window last night will eat away at my mind forever, leaving no room for future memories.

ANNE. Margaret, you’re over exaggerating.

MARGARET. Mother, you haven’t even let me tell you. There was a woman walking down the street, and a man on a horse ran right over her, breaking both her legs. The man got off the horse, stowed the woman on the back. She kept struggling and wouldn’t stay put, so he grabbed her by the hair as the horse ran through the streets until she snapped her neck on a light post. She seemed no older than myself. Her screams, I cannot stop hearing. God rest her soul.

ANNE. She must have done something to provoke him.

(CATHERINE enters with tea for ANNE.)

Well, hello, Catherine. Where’s Henry?

CATHERINE. In his study, I’m sure.

ANNE. Of course. He rarely wants to see his mother, I suppose. Oh, I don’t exist anymore. What if I went to sleep tonight and never woke up?

CATHERINE. He’s very busy.

ANNE. His father would never have let this happen. How do you, being his wife, put up with this behavior?

CATHERINE. What behavior? I was well aware of what I was facing, marrying a man of his profession. This doesn’t particularly bother me. He can spend nights without sleep in that room, and he will always be the same loving Henry.

ANNE. Why does a doctor need to be shut away in a room every day?

MARGARET. Will you please stop asking so many questions?

CATHERINE. He’s a scientist, and a very passionate one. But if you’d like, I will speak to him for you.

ANNE. Who knows when that will be.

CATHERINE. I will right now.

(She knocks on the door.)

Henry, may I enter? Henry?

(She opens the door and looks in.)

He’s away.

(ANNE gasps.)

MARGARET. What is it, mother?

ANNE. What do you think he’s doing out, Catherine?

CATHERINE. What do you mean by that?

ANNE. Oh, nevermind.

CATHERINE. What do you think he's doing out there, Mother? Are you suggesting he’s being unfaithful?

ANNE. My son? Oh, never! I would never accuse my child of that! The audacity…

(She exits.)

MARGARET. I’m worried as well. It isn’t the absence. It’s that man who comes through and visits him.

CATHERINE. Mr. Hyde?

MARGARET. Yes, Hyde. I told you what I saw last night immediately after it happened; and now I’ve had time to think about it, because I can think of nothing else. The more I recall this memory, the more I see Mr. Hyde’s face.

CATHERINE. Memories are tricky, Margaret. I admit I am uneasy when he comes by, but I do believe Henry has good intentions. He’s trying to help.

MARGARET. Henry’s intentions are unquestionably pure, but Hyde’s may not be.

CATHERINE. I won’t deny what you saw, but you have to know for sure. I’ve never seen such violence as you have described, and I’m sorry you had to witness something so horrific, so traumatic. I don’t even know what else I can say.

MARGARET. I heard he trampled little Mary down the road.

CATHERINE. That is a rumor, Margaret. I heard the same, and I went to the family and they swore it never happened.

MARGARET. Her ribs are broken, Catherine.

CATHERINE. They told me she fell out of a tree she was climbing. If Mr. Hyde really did that to Mary, why would her parents lie? Why not go to the police?

MARGARET. Alright, then. I may be overthinking. I’m sure you’re right, Catherine.

CATHERINE. Shall we visit the cathedral in the morning?

MARGARET. Of course.

Act 1 - Scene 3

(UTTERSON sits in his office. GUEST enters with LANYON.)

GUEST. Mr. Utterson. Dr. Lanyon has arrived, as requested.

UTTERSON. Thank you, Ms. Guest. Dr. Lanyon, how have you been coming along?

(LANYON greets UTTERSON with both hands.)

LANYON. Oh, my dear John Utterson! It has been much too long!

UTTERSON. That is why I invited you here, Hastie! I can’t take my mind off of old friends. Ms. Guest, a glass of wine for Dr. Lanyon and myself.

GUEST. I’m your clerk. Not a damn butler…

(She exits.)

LANYON. You don’t strike your workers, John?

(GUEST returns with glasses and pours the wine.)

A little more... Oh, just leave the bottle.

(GUEST slams the bottle down, and exits.)

A toast… to the queen and her cousin- I mean "husband."

(They both laugh.)

UTTERSON. I suppose, Lanyon, you and I must be the two oldest friends that Henry Jekyll has?

LANYON. I wish the friends were younger. But I suppose we are. And what of that? I see very little of him now.

UTTERSON. Indeed? I thought you had a bond of common interest.

LANYON. We had. You remember how close the three of us were. He was my partner in the laboratory, and I could never ask for another. But it is more than ten years that Henry Jekyll became too fanciful for me. He began to go wrong, wrong in mind, steering off course, into studies I could not condone; and though I continue to take interest in him for old sake’s sake as they say, I see and I have seen devilish little of the man.

UTTERSON. I see… I was unaware. Did you ever come across a protege of his- one Hyde?

LANYON. Hyde? No. Never heard of him. Is that why I’m here?

UTTERSON. I’m sorry, Hastie. I must break my code of honor for the first and final time.

(He picks up a piece of paper off his desk.)

“In case of the decease of Henry Jekyll, all his possessions were to pass into the hands of his ‘friend and benefactor Edward Hyde,’ but that in case of Dr. Jekyll’s disappearance or unexplained absence of any period exceeding three calendar months, Edward Hyde must step into Henry Jekyll’s shoes without further delay and free from any burthen or obligation.” (Scoffs.) What an eyesore.

LANYON. Strange…

UTTERSON. I thought it was madness, and now I begin to fear it is disgrace. This Hyde attacked a little girl recently.

LANYON. That is bad… Not very Christian.

(Drinks his wine.)

And now, I’m getting somewhat depressed.

UTTERSON. I apologize.

LANYON. No worries. I wish I could be of help, but I cut him out of my life completely.

UTTERSON. I wish that wasn’t so.

LANYON. Sometimes, I wish it wasn’t so. It is a fight between my heart and my brain, and my brain must always win. Well, I suppose I ought to be getting home.

UTTERSON. I’ll see you out.

(He leads LANYON to the door. LANYON exits.)

If he be Mr. Hyde, I shall be Mr. Seek. But I must see his face. This wonder, this fear of the unknown… it must cease.

Act 1 - Scene 4

(HYDE walks through the streets at night. A woman with two candles approaches him.)

CANDLE WOMAN. It’s dark, sir. Would you like something to light your way?

(HYDE strikes her in the face, knocking her to the ground with so much strength, she dies. He continues walking. Another woman runs to check on her.)

WOMAN. Elizabeth! Are you alright?!

(HYDE turns around and walks back up to the woman. He raises his cane at her. She screams. He grabs her by the hair and throws her back down.)

WOMAN. Please! I’ll do anything you want! Don’t hurt me!

(HYDE laughs and walks away.)

Oh… thank you, God.

(HYDE turns back to her.)

WOMAN. No no, please! I've got children! They need me, they need me!

(HYDE grabs her head. She screams briefly before he breaks her neck. A man has heard the screams and runs towards the stage through the aisle. HYDE shoots him, and the man drops dead by the audience.)

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