Writer: Bram Stoker
Artist(s): Action To The Word
adaptation: By Company
Venue: Theatre Tent
Director: Alexandra Spencer-Jones
Reviewer: Kris Hallett
Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a novel that provides endless inspiration for artists to reinvent. From Christopher Lee’s iconic vampire for Hammer to Ford Francis Coppolla’s version, which recasts the Count as the tragic protagonist, people keep coming back to this origin tale of gothic romance and chilling horror. Action To The Word’s steampunk version turns up the operatic notch to maximum with its beguiling mix of sex, violence, pulsing thrills and moments of downright silliness. It’s a show that encompasses moments of genuine virtuosity when deliverybring out unintentional laughs at lines from a script thatworks best when it sticks close to its source. When it veers away most lines would easily suit some dodgy direct to DVD horror B movie. It reaches for the stars, occasionally misses by a country mile but, in doing so, provide one of the most entertaining evenings I’ve had in a theatre this year.
For anyone familiar with Forgetting Sarah Marshall and who wished they could see the Dracula puppet musical then this is the real life human version. Nuances are chucked out of the window: these characters feel with everything, sing with passion, play their instruments with manic intensity and shagwith a wild abandonment as though it is the last night of their lives. It is sexy as hell, playing with the idea that the vampire bite release a primeval sexual abandon in these Victorian ladies, given compelling performances by Olivia Bromley as Mia, the pretty prim fiancée who fuels Dracula’s obsession with his long-lost love, and Hannah Lee as Lucy the modern women caught in a society that isn’t quite ready for a women with more modern tastes. Jonno Davies is thesexy Count who seduces them.
Its reinterpretation of the songs of Britney Spears and Radiohead goes way beyond the realms of camp rock and, in a piece that starts so faithfully to Stoker’s novel, it proceeds to drop sections of the story, some of the performances don’t match that of the girls and the production never fully establishes time and place. For those not familiar with the source material it may prove a challenge to keep up.
This may be a guilty pleasure of a show; something rather silly, completely overblown but you’re already looking forward to making its acquaintance again.