- October 25, 2018
True Story Theatre’s dramatised version on the Bram Stoker classic is a fine example of creative theatre. Few coming to this story will be unaware of the bones of the story, it has been presented in so many ways, from the simplistic, through comic to full blooded gore. This company take the path of loyal storytelling and do it with class. Simple staging benefits from the Victorian gothic setting of a de-consecrated church, beautifully lit and haunted by an impressive soundscape of dripping water, creaking iron work and thunderously doom lade organ chords and choral blasts.
The story is moved along by the device of a Greek, or should I say freak, chorus and the rhyming verse is shared amongst the company who variously take on different roles. It works well, black hooded capes being swapped for good period costume, and the way the characters drift on an off the traverse format seating is finely choreographed. There is physical theatre here but used with effective moderation.
As for the main characters, Joe Burns as Renfield is wailing for help from the moment you enter the space, convincingly mad and obsessed. Patrick McHugh as Harker descends from drear solicitor to crazed victim with ease and Laura Schofield’s Mina is excellently reserved making her final descent all the more effective.
Miriam Grace Edwards as Lucy is wonderfully flirty, in fact positively lascivious as she falls under the influence of the count, at moments almost challenging the great Fenella Fielding and in those moments the whole production gains the balance required before plunging into the gory depths of the final scenes.
Van Helsing in this production is a female doctor (not only Dr Who can cross that boundary) and Emma Kilbey’s marvellous rendering of the character as a slightly crazy medic obsessed with the vampire legend and sporting a wonderfully creepy German accent is wonderful.
Of course any production of Dracula needs a convincingly sinister lead and here Dracula is given a demonic presence, Gary Sefton is dark from start to finish, beautifully costumed and utterly convincing.
And all this they do without resorting to flying bats or flying blood – and this makes it a fine example of gothic theatre that is suitable for a younger audience – a perfect night out for the family around Halloween and at just over an hour not too demanding for kids.