Jekyll and Hyde spooky? A real nightmare is a world with no chemistry!
26 May 2006
The damaging way that chemistry is depicted in horror and science fiction masks the huge health and medical benefits that the science brings daily to every individual in the UK.
Stories like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde project a vision of chemistry as a grim tool whereas the reality is that without the work of chemical scientists every man, woman and child in the country would suffer.
And to ram home its case the Royal Society of Chemistry invited the lead actor of a new Cambridge Festival Players production of the Victorian horror story to visit its offices op the Cambridge Science Park with some of the chemical equipment employed to shock audiences in the show.
And because one of the RSC's own publishing staff is appearing in the show - a rarely-performed musical version - the RSC asked her to appear in the shot with some of the beneficial everyday products of chemistry upon which millions of people depend.
Actor Neal Upton and Kathryn Lees with Victorian chemical equipment and modern products
RSC technical editor Kathryn Lees said: "When the Festival Players became one of the first societies to obtain performing rights to the fabulous Jekyll and Hyde, I was simply thrilled to have the chance to be part of something that promises to be a landmark occasion in Cambridge theatre.
"Then it occurred to me that the show represented an unusually strong link between my passion for musical theatre and my career as a chemist. After all, chemistry is key to the story of Dr Jekyll and his lifelong quest to separate the essence of good from evil."
She added: "Chemistry is fundamental in theatre, just as it is in every aspect of life: the natural product chemistry involved in creating Jekyll's experiments safely on stage, the fabrics of the costumes, the gels in the lights, the complementary nature of set and lighting design to ensure atmospheric colours on stage. Every day, chemistry is everywhere.
"Yet the chemist in me also has to recognise and acknowledge the misrepresentation of science in Jekyll and Hyde. A tortured, isolated man, working alone in a laboratory could not be further from the true picture of modern day chemistry. It is essential that the portrayal of science today is a positive, accurate image that celebrates how far we've come, reflects what we've achieved and emphasises how important it is to continue."
Talking of his role preparation Hyde actor Neal Upton said: "Firstly I watched the show on DVD then read two books of Jekyll and Hyde. My dining room has become a chemistry lab and I'm sure my neighbours think I've gone crazy jumping around and screaming whilst holding strange coloured liquids in flasks. Mirrors have played an important role, being able to see myself as normal and crazy have helped."
Contact and Further Information
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