Director: Eliot Giuralarocca
Writer: John Ginman
Reviewer: Rosie Revell
It is telling that Bram Stoker’s 400 page novel Dracula, first published in 1897, has never been out of print. It has well and truly sunk its teeth into popular culture as we know it, spawning over 200 different types of adaptations, TV series, films and plays. The vampire, as a character, has well and truly entered the public consciousness and never fails to fascinate. A recent American study reported that the cult of the vampire, as celebrated by modern versions such as TV shows True Blood and The Vampire Diaries and films like Twilight are worth 10 billion pounds to the economy. The question remains though, why should a 117 year old novel still hold such a fascination for a worldwide audience, and is there room for yet another version in such a saturated market?
Telling the story of Dracula’s (Paul Kevin-Taylor) attempted move to from Transylvania to England and how a group of young men and women led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing (Kevin-Taylor again) attempt to thwart his evil plan. The story can be read on different levels; Stoker had much to say on the important political and cultural themes of the day, the changing rôle of women in Victorian culture, sexual mores and conventions, immigration and a post-colonial fear of the unknown, but it is also a rollicking good yarn, full of twists and turns; a story of good versus evil.The novel, originally written in epistolary format through letters, diaries and ship’s logs has skilfully been adapted by writer Ginman into a tight piece that really focuses on the essentials of the story. The many characters and events within the novel have been reduced to just the essential parts, with the show all the more powerful for it.
The cast of 5 take on all the characters with gusto, seamlessly transforming into each character before our very eyes, changing voices, hair, costume and characterisation in a blink of an eye, as well as providing the music and sound effects. It is such a tight performance that it is hard to single out any one performer from such a strong cast. Special mention must go to Paul Kevin-Taylor’s creepy Max Shreck inspired take on the count, and Will Bryant’s in turns endearing and terrifying, madman Renfield.
The show breathes new life into the classic gothic horror story in a unique, immersive and totally mesmerising way by fusing music, poetry, drama, comedy, shadow puppetry and magic. The set and staging is cleverly functional, all the props needed by the cast are there, in full view of the audience and everything happens before their very eyes.
Blackeyed Theatre has provided a thrilling, fast- moving show that has skilfully shown that yes there is room for a new version and that there is still life in the old count yet.
Runs until: 31st January 2014