THE classic Gothic novella Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a timeless tale about the duality of man, class struggles and violence. The themes Robert Louis Stevenson was writing about in the 1890s are as applicable now as they ever were.

There has been a fascination with Gothic tales since the 19th century, with the likes of Frankenstein, Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde and The Picture of Dorian Gray deeply ingrained into our culture and retold time and time again.

The tales are timeless because they capture the true essence of society and human nature and the darkness that often lies beneath the surface.

Lorn Macdonald (below), who plays the protagonist Gabriel Utterson in The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde, likened the fascination with the Gothic to our modern attraction to true crime documentaries and serial killers.

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He said: “It’s so morbid but there is something about people being able to buy into the idea of just doing whatever you want and being the most awful version of yourself.

“As soon as someone lives outside of the parameters of what we understand as the norm, everyone starts losing their minds. Whether that’s people saying they’re non-binary or trans, these people have been in our society for years and years but because the issues are getting more attention now people are losing their minds. It doesn’t make much sense to me.”

Stevenson’s novella has been told countless times, so for Hope Dickson Leach’s adaptation to work they needed a fresh angle.

They largely stayed true to the original story but developed the idea that Utterson would also become this Jekyll and Hyde character as he is corrupted by power.

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Macdonald said: “Utterson is a much more modern character, so we are delving into that classical text but through a modern lens where realistically the Jekyll and Hydes of the world that we live in are much closer to that slow decline, and at the same time, slow rise into power.

“With everything that is happening with the strikes and the horrific gaps in pay for nurses or many other kinds of workers, hopefully a modern audience will go into it thinking they know the story but then halfway through realise this is a much more relevant story than they might have thought.”

The dark and dangerous streets of Victorian London are swapped for the industrial streets of Victorian Edinburgh in the film. MacDonald says this change of location feels natural and that Edinburgh is the perfect setting for the tale.

He now finds it strange that the novella was ever set in London as the Scottish city lends itself perfectly to its Gothic nature.

Macdonald said: “Edinburgh as a city is a bit Jekyll and Hyde. You’ve got the Old Town, which is dark and rich in history and then you have the rest of Edinburgh goes in a different way. It’s such a beautiful place but it does have a darkness to it and has a history of dark goings-on, especially during the time in which Jekyll and Hyde is set.”

The movie was filmed at Leith Theatre and on the streets of Edinburgh during Covid and Macdonald was grateful to get a job in the city where he lived during such an isolating time.

He said: “Being out and about and looking over Salisbury Crags or walking around the Old Town to places that I hadn’t been for two or three years felt like I was rediscovering my own city. I was very lucky to have that experience.”

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde will will have its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on August 21 and will then be broadcast on Sky Arts later this year.

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The premiere will represent a full-circle moment for Macdonald as he returns to the festival.

He said: “My mum found a photograph of me from when I was about 15 when I and a bunch of friends had won the Edinburgh International Film Festival’s school competition for best film. There’s this awkward photograph of me with a really bad, pre-Bieber, fringe with a little kind of award.

“It’s nice to think that 15 years later I’m back but leading a film that I’m pretty proud of.”