Adapted for stage by Jenny King, Bram Stoker’s Dracula contains all your vampire clichés but failed to quench my thirst for a particularly original take.
In the month of Halloween, Bram Stoker’s Dracula seems a timely opportunity to experience a horror classic ‘in-the-flesh’. For the traditionalists, Jenny King and Eduard Lewis’ production offers exactly that. Expect garlic, stakes, fangs and all the other vampire clichés imaginable; it may be remiss, admittedly, to deny the audience any of these when everything else about this touring production flows from the 19th century story of Count Dracula (Glen Fox) on his parasitic quest for immortality. For those with a thirst for an original take or just something a little different, though, I wouldn’t go expecting to take away much from this particular Dracula.
The cast generally embrace the stereotypes for better or worse; they soldier on through the awkward scenes of sexual submission to the Transylvanian ‘Master’ or being possessed with jerking movements reminiscent of The Exorcist, but it’s not enough to make for easy watching.
Much credit should go to the design team – as the lights, sound and set are creatively designed and superbly executed. Seeing the show on the Bromley leg of a UK tour (the Churchill Theatre), subtler eerie effects contrast nicely with the ‘punchy’, dramatic ones at all the places you’d expect them to appear. Bram Stoker’s Dracula also fulfils its promise of being sensory – but don’t panic if that seems off-putting. While the show is jumpy, thankfully it’s nowhere near a Woman in Black level of terrifying.
There’s not much that is especially ground-breaking about this production of Dracula but it doesn’t shy away from its gothic essence, which is something we could easily take for granted after years of countless derived vampire stories. The booming laugh of Count Dracula is even a bit endearing (if you can handle it) – and if it belongs anywhere at all, it belongs in this show.