Prove your humanity

“Here then, as I lay down the pen and proceed to seal up my confession, I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end.”

For quite some time, before I brought all the pages together in my lap, I stared at the last sentence of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella, the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I brushed my fingers against the purple letters splattered against, and slightly sunken into, the green leather cover of the book.

I absent-mindedly checked my watch: five past six. Shit. I scrambled to get ready—Daisy and I had agreed we would leave at quarter past six to make the show. How strange, I thought, that I would be driving to Kwinana.

We left late. Despite this, every time I glanced down at my speedometer, I found that I was driving under the speed limit. Ninety kilometres an hour, down the freeway, forlorn lampposts flicking by as we went.

Indicating, I exited the freeway onto Thomas Road and shortly pulled into the parking lot of Koorliny Arts Centre in Kwinana.

We clambered out of the car, and inside, where people flitted about, and collected our tickets.

Daisy ordered a lemon-lime-and-bitters from the bar, and I asked for a cup of tea. The clerk gave me a token to slot into the machine beside me for the tea. The machine whizzed and clicked, and somehow, perhaps from the murky colour of the tea, I knew that this would be the worst cup of tea of my life. I had three sips of it and wondered what God would do this to me. I made Daisy try it to ensure that my churning stomach, owed to my activities the night before weren’t responsible; she agreed the tea was horrid. I thought: what fresh hell have I found in Kwinana.

But we went to the theatre doors, the attendant walked us to our seats. Tables had been set up inside, complimentary snacks had been provided: I nibbled on peanuts, Daisy preferred the maltesers.

And then it began.

David Davies came into the theatre, to perform his adaptation of Stevenson’s novella.

For an hour, from the moment that he began, until the moment he finished, I was captivated.

Davies filled every fracture of the theatre. The size of which offered a comfortable viewing, before lending Davies performance an intensity that was gripping.

Set in London, 1886, Davies became the interminably good Dr Jekyll, and detestably evil Mr Hyde, easily leading the room through Stevenson’s story. Through the discovery of the formula that separates the good self from the evil self, through Hyde’s indulgences of monstrosity, and Jekyll’s struggle to control him.

At the beginning Jekyll is measured, after numerous glasses of his concoction he is markedly and involuntarily more and more Hyde, the manifestation of malevolence.

At moments, I chuckled, but an instant later, the tension twisted out of Davie’s performance was palpable.

At points, I simultaneously marvelled and cursed the lighting effects, which emphasised instances of horror.

Davies performance was as entertaining as it was thought-provoking.

At the end, after bowing and receiving numerous, and much deserved, rounds of applause, Davies humbled the room. Against convention, he proceeded to tell the intriguing story of how Stevenson came to write the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. He finished by thanking the audience, the lighting technician, the theatre company, and everyone else involved in the compelling production.

Daisy and I stood, and headed for the exit.

We walked outside, the wind whipping at our hair. I lit a cigarette, and we discussed how enthralling the show was.

We pulled out of the parking lot, headed for the freeway with all of its lonely lampposts. Granted, the tea was awful, but we agreed that we’d do this again. And next time driving to Kwinana wouldn’t be all that strange.