DramaNorth East & YorkshireReview

Dracula: The Untold Story – Leeds Playhouse

Reviewer: Ray Taylor

Director and Co-writers: Andrew Quick and Peter Brooks

Projection and Video Design: Simon Wainwright

Dracula: The Untold Story is the brainchild of a company called imitating the dog who are quickly gaining a reputation both at home and abroad for startling, innovative theatre that entertains and amazes audiences in equal measure. They promise that this adaptation of the well-known gothic horror novel will offer a fresh interpretation of a story that everyone thinks they know and this certainly does not disappoint. Audiences are sure to be thrilled by the combination of narrative and visual effects and digital technology that makes this production so memorable and effective.

This version of Dracula is really the story of Mina Harker, played brilliantly by Riana Duce. The other two performers Adela Rajnovic and Matt Prendergast are equally as brilliant as WPC Williams and DS Donaldson respectively. But this is merely scratching the surface because all three actors are on stage throughout, multi-tasking heroically in a variety of roles and languages that is, quite frankly, breathtaking. All three deserve the highest praise for giving exceptionally accomplished performances.

The action opens on New Year’s Eve in the London of 1965 and a young woman enters Marylebone Police Station and confesses to a brutal murder. She claims to be Mina Harker – the one and the same who in 1901 witnessed Count Dracula’s demise. That would make her ninety years old! The play then explores her story which, until now, has remained untold because it is too fantastical to believe.

The action unfolds like a graphic novel, a format that this company has successfully used before. Simon Wainwright must take great credit here for the quality of the visual images that really capture the imagination and provide the audience with a totally immersive experience for the senses. There is so much going on simultaneously that it is almost too much to take in but it is all done so skilfully that you hardly notice and you can just sit back and admire the pyrotechnics.

At the heart of the action is an examination of what happens when you attempt to confront evil head on. Can trying to destroy monsters ultimately make you just as monstrous yourself? The work also examines ideas around responsibility, the role of history, and what constitutes the truth. This show at best will have people rushing back to the original novel especially to revisit Mina’s part in the story and, at worst, watching again some of the many film adaptations out there to see how she is portrayed and to ponder  “what if . . .”

Runs until 9th October 2021

The Reviews Hub Score

A Spooktacular Success!

The Reviews Hub - Yorkshire & North East

The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Mark Clegg. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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