Dracula - Bloody Marvellous
Phil Hopkins, Theatre & Travel Correspondent
I have never seen a Blackeyed Theatre production before but, this innovative company, left me with an over burdening desire to sleep with the light on, just hours after curtain down on their gripping stage version of Dracula.
John Ginman's adaptation of Stoker's masterpiece - as enthralling now as it was shocking 116 years ago - remained true to the text, and gave talented director, Eliot Giuralarocca, a beautiful canvas on which to paint his work.
I must confess that at the outset I wondered how a cast of five was going carry this one off but, gradually, with every passing minute, each talented actor drew you into the plot. You had a damn good idea of what was coming, but there was still that feeling in the pit of your stomach, throughout. Would the vampire lurch forward? Who'd bite who? And would there be any holy water?
I really enjoyed this production, especially Paul Taylor, who played both the Count and his nemesis, Professor Van Helsing, and, like another Gothic stage show, Woman in Black, a small cast skilfully managed to successfully bring a classic masterpiece to life in just two hours.
Great theatre is about igniting imaginations - the two parasols acting as the wheels of Jonathan Harker Renfield's carriage as it sets off for Dracula's castle, the huge silk blanket that doubled as the Count's ship sailing into Whitby, and the lunatic's consumption of flies and spiders. As he gobbled down the invisible insects the audience audibly grimaced. It all worked, testimony to good direction, acting and believability.
Stoker wrote some 18 books over his life but his 1897 masterpiece is the one that's remembered, and which is also said to be responsible for up to 10 billion pounds of the USA's economy today, thanks to the likes of Twilight, The Vampire Diaries and True Blood!
It is a timeless work that not only addresses the post colonial fears of the unknown, but the political and social changes of a time when women began to emerge from behind their aprons, and technology delivered the wonders of moving pictures and many theatrical innovations.
Blackeyed Theatre refer to themselves as a mid-scale touring theatre company that deliver commercially viable, challenging and innovative productions. Dracula was all of these and should be applauded, along with each member of its excellent cast.
Other than the one mobile phone ringing briefly - this is a school text, after all, and no one advised the teenage audience to power down! - Dracula transported its audience to the Gothic world of Transylvania and Victorian England.
It is completely different to anything playing at the moment, is worth a visit and will leave you wondering whether the Count is standing behind you as you are shaving in the mirror or titivating that beautiful, white porcelain neck. Yum yum!
Until Friday (31st Jan 2014) at Harrogate Theatre.
Dracula - Bloody Marvellous, 29th January 2014, 12:08 PM