Shakespeare’s plays are whackier and whackier the more you read. Confusion, dirty jokes, and some pretty unbelievable things happening at sea. So many things are just begging to be memed. It’s a shame memes weren’t even invented until four hundred years after his death. At least we can give his works the meming they deserve retroactively.
I confess, my love of hamlet shows a little here, but who can blame me? There’s a reason it’s so widely read. Plus, Hamlet himself is such an incredibly quotable character, who wouldn’t make a meme? Like his most famous line.
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But it’s not just the things he says when he’s alone and feeling emo. Hamlet comes face to face with almost everyone in the play, in a way that changes it around him, even when he’s not staging mini murder plays.
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I think we can all agree Ophelia deserved better. Who does he think he is, a prince? He-hem. Usually tossing a girl around a room (in some adaptations) is not the way to her heart. But you know what’s actually a worse seduction tactic?
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Yikes. That’s one way to get her alone. Not one I can condone, though. Alright, enough about Denmark. We could go on like this forever.
What happens when you kill the one fun friend? Then again, I guess all getting together to stab someone could be considered a party of sorts. It’s certainly one way to bond with your coworkers. Work outing? Tried it and I CANNOT recommend.
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I had to include a Much Ado About Nothing meme, because it’s my all time fave, and this is my favorite adaptation. Plus, just about every character is an absolute meme, start to finish.
Brought to you by the Summoners Ensemble Theatre, in association with the Merchant’s House Museum, this one-man show debuted last year with twenty-seven performances at the landmark 1832 Merchant’s House Museum.
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John Kevin Jones will once again star. It’ll be tough to do this one-man play, even if he has done it twenty-seven times before, he’s a six-year veteran of A Christmas Carol at the Merchant’s House. He’s an expert at this.
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Plus he’ll be joined by the director of A Christmas Carol at the Merchant’s House, Dr. Rhonda Dodd, who will direct this project as well.
Now that we know we are safe hands, we sit back and let ourselves get swept up in the horror.
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Like I said before, the play will be performed at the Merchant’s House Museum. This is splendid news and delightfully apropos, given that the Merchant’s House Museum, also known as the Old Merchant’s House as well as the Seabury Tredwell House, is Manhattan’s only 19th century family home to be preserved intact.
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Edgar Allan Poe himself was a nineteenth century writer and literary critic. Born January 19, 1809 and died under strange circumstances in October 7, 1849, Poe became known after his death as the master of horror, mystery, and the macabre, and a pioneer of the short story.
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The Merchant’s House Museum was formerly the home to the Tredwell’s, a prosperous merchant-class family. Given that the Tredwell’s are now long dead, it’ll only add to the creepiness of the show given that their once lively candlelit parlor will be set for a funeral, complete with coffin and draped mirrors.
Broadway World warns that “[a] bone-chilling evening of irrational revenge, obsession, premeditated murder, dismemberment, and the very, very dark awaits”.
Buy tickets here, if you dare. The Merchant’s House Museum located at twenty-nine East, Fourth Street in Manhattan, NY. Performances will run September 24th until November 3rd. For more information, please visit www.summonersensemble.org and www.merchantshouse.org.
The first volume of planned trilogy entitled The Book of Dust to his previous trilogy His Dark Materials, an infamous trilogy made up of The Golden Compass (known as Northern Lights in its home country of the UK), The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, La Belle Sauvage is a fantasy novel that is set twelve years before this trilogy.
Published in 2017 by David Fickling Books in the UK and by Alfred A. Knopf in the US, this first volume in a planned trilogy covers the story of the event leading up Lyra Belacqua’s arrival as a six-month-old baby at Jordan College, Oxford.
The book received positive reviews, with The Guardian noting that La Belle Sauvage recalled children’s classic like C.S Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, Lucy M Boston’s Green Knowe, and the ancient Welsh tales of The Mabinogion, raving that “[o]ne other way in which La Belle Sauvage recalls those children’s classics is the sheer beauty of the book itself. David Fickling Books should be praised for the faith it’s shown in producing something both lavish and readable.”
The Washington Post said of the trilogy, “Too few things in our own world are worth a seventeen-year-wait: ‘The Book of Dust’ is one of them”.
Before going on, let’s note that Pullman himself said the second volume in his new trilogy, the The Secret Commonwealth, is fast forward to roughly ten years after His Dark Materials ended and will follow Lyra as an adult. No dangling plot threads in this story!
That story is set to be published in October.
Back to the stage adaptation!
Given that Nicholas Wright’s stage adaptation of the His Dark Material triology was adapted into a two-part production that managed to nab Timothy Dalton, Patricia Hodge, Ben Whishaw, and Dominic Cooper, this new adaptation should
The stage adaptation is set for in autumn 2020 premiere at London’s Bridge theatre. The Guardian reports that Nicholas Hytner, whose had extensively work in the theatre stretching back to 1978, will direct the show.
Hytner is no stranger to Pullman stage adaptation. Back in 2003, His Dark Materials was adapted into a two part production. Written by playwright Nicholas Wright, the original production, which premiered at the National Theatre in London in 2003, managed to nab stars such as Timothy Dalton, Patricia Hodge, Ben Whishaw and Dominic Cooper!
Want to know where William Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet? Up until now you’ve been left in the dark, but thanks to theater historian Geoffrey Marsh the answer is finally clear.
CNN broke the news how Mr. Marsh, the director of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Department of Theatre and Performance, has spent a decade “meticulously researching the home of the English dramatist and poet by cross-referencing official records to pinpoint…” the home of this wondrous playwright.
In 2008 ‘The Theatre’, an Elizabethan playhouse in East London’s Shoreditch, was discovered. Infamously, this centerpiece of human visual art predated ‘The Globe’ as our good old Billy Shakes’ workplace. This got Mr. Marsh curious and, never a man to heed the old saying ‘curiosity killed the cat’ he went on a search through tales upon tales to find this mouse.
Image Via Time
The first key piece of evidence was the knowledge that the writer of classic literature lived in Central London near Liverpool Street Station. Where, exactly? Well, taxpayer recorders in 1597 and 1598 weren’t exactly clear on that.
Mr. Marsh wasn’t satisfied. A detective on the case, he got out his magnifying glass and looked at every word from that faded 1550s document. What did he fine in that near-indecipherable erratic spelling?
Well, “[a]ccording to Marsh, evidence suggests Shakespeare had lived in a property overlooking the churchyard of St. Helens as a tenant of the Company of Leathersellers, a guild that organized the Elizabethan leather trade.”
So that’s where Shakespeare wrote his classic love story about star-crossed young lovers. Why is it important? Well…
“The place where Shakespeare lived in London gives us a more profound understanding of the inspirations for his work and life.”
🎶 Do you think I’d ever let you go? Do you think I’d ever set you free? 🎶
Apparently not, because “the sorry tale of Edward Hyde” is coming to theaters.
*Little girl squeals*
Not so fast, squealing little boy (and girls!). They aren’t simply filming the stage musical of Jekyll & Hyde, they are going to adapt it into a full fledged motion picture film (READ ALL ABOUT THE MAGIC HERE). In honor of that Godsend, we’re going to go through eleven of the oldest, strangest, and weirdest adaptions of the classic story!
The play went on tour in Britain and ran for twenty years with Mansfield enthusiastically playing the role of Mr. Hyde until his death in 1907. The plot was already being reworked here, as the play gives Jekyll a love interest, Agnes, who is the daughter of Sir Danvers Carew, a man who Mr. Hyde will eventually murder. The play also ends with Mr. Hyde realizing he CANNOT transform back into Jekyll to escape the authorities, and committing suicide instead of an off-scene struggle between him and Dr. Jekyll. This play was adapted into a 1912 film of the same name that starred James Cruze, which is the earliest surviving Jekyll and Hyde film we still have copies of.
Add a marriage plot
Make the transformation scenes cool to get the audience talking about your adaption.
Eight years after the James Cruze film, we have the 1920 film starring John Barrymore. Again, it’s based on the Mansfield play with its love story, what with Jekyll having a fiancee called Millicent this time (not Emma) while also using the advent of film to have Hyde’s appearance become increasingly repulsive with each transformation.
When the film came out reviewers, like title characters in the film, were ‘split’. Variety said “as a medium for Mr. Barrymore…As the handsome young Dr. Jekyll his natural beauty of form and feature stand him in good stead and he offers a marvelous depiction of beastiality in the transformed personality of ‘Mr. Hyde'” but called the story “ridiculous”.
See how adding a cool transformations gets people talking?
Before I move on, I should mention how since its release the film has however been reassessed and holds a critical consensus of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes with a average rating of 7.75/10.
When making the 1931 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde film, Paramount changed the name of fiancée Muriel Carew despite the fact she doesn’t appear in the original novella but instead in the Thomas Russell Sullivan and Richard Mansfield play. They asked John Barry to play the role again, but he was under contract by MGMT, so they instead went with Frederic March. Taking into account the novella’s implication that Hyde, as embodying repressed evil, is a semi-evolved simian-like being, the film stuffed canine fangs and had Frederic March dress up as a monkey. He won an Academy Award. The film also pronounces Jekyll as JEE-kal (as in seek, get in it? Hyde and seek?) which was how Robert Louis Stevenson intended it to be pronounced. It was remade in 1941 starring Spencer Tracy and that film pronounced Jekyll as Jek-el (the way you’ve been pronouncing it for this whole article).
So, the marriage stays but the names change and you get awards for great makeup.
Here’s a refresher:
Add a marriage plot
Make the transformation scenes cool to get the audience talking about your adaption
Add in a good script, good production, a good director, good acting, and you get an award. Where can we go next?
In 1953, Boris Karloff of Frankenstein fame played Dr. Jekyll in Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. There is no fiancee here, but Jekyll is infatuated with a woman named Vicky who intends to marry another man called Bruce Adams. Costello also turns into a large mouse, there’s confusion about who is who, and ends with Abbott and Costello getting chased out of the office by a bunch of monsters.
No marriage plot
Boris Karloff as Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde is cool
On Rotten Tomatoes, critic Steve Crum of Kansas City says “Bud and Lou meet another monster for infrequent laughs.
In 1971 came the British film, I, Monster. It stars Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing! Awesome. And it has a lot of Stevenson’s plot and dialogue and there’s no marriage plot and it has a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 7.75/10.
Let me say that again: Christopher Lee is Mr. Hyde. He was also Dracula in the 1958 Hammer film. And you know who played Van Helsing in that movie? Peter Cushing.
Image Via Vintage News
Also Christopher Lee was up to play Grand Moff Tarkin in the first Star wars (or the fourth, depending on how you look at it), but he said no so Peter Cushing took the role. And that’s why Christopher Lee played Count Dooku in Attack of the Clones, the fifth or second Star wars.
For some strange reason Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde is now Dr. Charles Marlowe/Mr. Edward Blake but Peter Cushing is still called Utterson. Why? For some big reveal? Oh well. Dr. Charles Marlowe is a Freudian psychotherapist and honestly that with the whole ‘monster inside you’ concept.
No marriage plot
Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing for the win!
It won. So much so that you read this whole article asking yourself “Why is he calling Dr. Marlowe Dr. Jekyll? Dr. Jekyll? That’s a stupid name! And Mr. Hyde? That’s not scary! Now Mr. Blake, he’s scary!”
Of course there’s a “Dr. Jekyll meets Sherlock Holmes.” It’s a 1979 novel by Loren D. Estleman titled Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmesand is a ‘retelling’ of Stevenson’s story. See, Utterson hired Sherlock Holmes to figure out what the heck was going on. It’s basically a behind-the-scenes story that takes place concurrently with the original.
Of course, Sherlock figures out that Dr. Jekyll is Mr. Hyde and confronts him, but upon realizing Mr. Hyde will never die uses his brilliant intellect to find the best solution…and mercy kills Jekyll.
In the last chapter Holmes meets with…Robert Louis Stevenson! He must be having a weird time, flashbacking to the Chantrelle trial, but the novel leaves that out and the fact that no newspaper apparently ever reported on the Hyde case. Strange, you’d think a half ape-scientist would get headlines, but whatever. It’s a story, and it ends with Stevenson promising to leave Holmes out of his novella so no one ever learns he killed Jekyll because that would be messy.
Kirkus summed this story up with this: “Unfortunately, though Estleman does a better, deadpan job of recreating Conan Doyle’s Watson style than many, he forgets that, without mystery, there is no Holmes–and here, we know all along what Sherlock is trying to deduce.”
In 1989, a low budget horror film adaptation of the novella called Edge of Sanitycame out staring Anthony Perkins of Psycho fame stared as Jekyll and, wait for it, Mr. Jack “The Ripper” Hyde. It has no marriage plot, but again here’s perfect casting. What’s gonna happen?
TV Guide said the film “obviously isn’t meant to be taken seriously, despite its expensive production values and surrealistic photography—both surprisingly good. But the rest of EDGE OF SANITY (shot mostly in Budapest with some English exteriors) doesn’t measure up to its technical proficiency”. Good production values and photography only grants you one star, and thus Edge of Sanity got 1 out of 4 stars.
And that was one of the better reviews. “Tasteless, pointless, and unpleasant,” were what Leonard Martin, film credit, film historian, creator of the Walt Disney Treasures, called the film in his book Leonard Maltin’s 2010 Movie Guide.
The ‘who is Mr. Hyde?’ mystery doesn’t work. The audience knows who it is, so just show us Jekyll transforming into Hyde
It follows Hester Lane, a reporter from Canada, who discovers she’s Jekyll’s heir around the time someone continues with Jekyll’s experiments. Kirkus described the novel as having its “virtues come largely in looking at Victorian morals and the works of the Salvation Army, with the horror lightly handled,” which is interesting consider Jekyll’s butler Poole and Mr. Utterson given closure in the form of a bludgeoning.
Sequels are weird when your titular character is dead, just ask The Saw movies.
Gracing the stage came the musical adaptation of Jekyll and Hyde. Conceived by Frank Wildhorn and Steven Cuden, the musical actually premiered in Houston, Texas in 1990 at the Alley Theatre. It did okay.
Kidding! Playbill.com notes that “box office records were broken, and a recording based on the staging was released. The show’s big hits, ‘Someone Like You’ and ‘This is the Moment,’ were heard on that recording (which has sold more than 150,000 copies).
This remarkable success blasted the musical onto a national tour throughout a national tour of the United States before gracing Broadway in 1997.
A marriage plot
Music that adds insight into Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde’s character
The story throws its own spin on a classic tale that allows it to sing through the ages.
It’s called The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and boy is it strange. Dread Central said in their review that, “while this latest variation of the Jekyll story isn’t likely to win over any enthusiasts of the book, it will probably satisfy the undiscerning fan looking for some blood and a few unintentional laughs.”
‘Why?’ I hear you asked.
With no marriage plot, the original plot with retained with a few changed. The first change is the film is set in modern times instead of Victorian England. Okay, at least it’s new.
In an effort to update the character, a character is made into a female and her profession is changed. Her name? Detective Karen Utterson.
Since I can’t ask the patrons at the thirty theaters in Louisiana and Virginia that showed this independent film studio’s debut feature, I have to assume they loved it as much as I did.