It is easy to see the inspiration Bram Stoker had when penning the seminal classic that is Dracula. As he sat looking at the haunting view across Whitby. Observing the abbey in silhouette against a sky of twilight ink. A place I have very recently visited. For the performance this brought an extra visceral element of expectation. The crowd are a chatter of Touring Consortium Theatre Company’s bold stake in the game bringing this new and exciting production to the Theatre Royal.
Pillars of a grand castle, mist swirling sets the scene. Before the audience are thunderously brought to pay attention. Taking us to the home and garden of teacher ~ preparing for marriage Mina (Olivia Swann) playfully chattering about the things that girls do. Jessica Webber, brought Lucy to life being delicately excitable, brimming with bright-eyed sexuality. Bringing a rich believable connection. Swanns concern was heartfelt with a tear at the right moment as Draculas pull on Lucy grew. The departure of Renfield to be portrayed by a woman is a great take; Cheryl Campbell whose grasp of wit and comic timings won over the masses, taping into a full range of expressions as the fly patient. Great casting from Marc Frankum to bring a physical Glen Fox as the Transylvanian nobleman. Glens presence is strong, his delivery of Romanian commendable. Andrew Horton absorbing as the concerned and emotionally damaged solicitor Harker. Many adaptions of the famous novel tend to shine primary focus on the relationship of Harker and Mina. There felt an intentional emphasis on the bond between Dr. Seward and Lucy. Seward (Evan Morton) moves forward as a character with revelations and understanding, his love for Lucy. Phillip Brethertons rich experience adds weight to the troubled and dedicated Van Helsing, commanding the stage. Each characters throb of obsession resonates under Eduard Lewis’ direction. Blood and thrills delight, the squeamish may have to look away at moments.
From the grand hall of ancient castles to the treacherous bay of Whitby. Intelligent sets with an effective use of lighting and tapestry of vivid sound orchestrate scapes with grand designs in mind. The team really brought the texture of the book to the modern age of theatre with a special effect laden finale not to be missed.
Many rose to the feet with the appreciation for a bold dramatic take on the bloodthirsty classic…with their heart in recovery.