Brockley Jack Theatre, London – until 27 October 2018
Arrows and Traps make a triumphant return following their adaptation of The White Rose in this atmospheric adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It is a real shame they announced their next two productions would be their last as they take an extended break.
Jonathan Harker leaves his fiancée Mina to arrange Count Dracula’s move from Transylvania but why is the Count so keen to move to near an asylum, it cannot be simply to improve his English? Whilst Harker finds himself trapped in a strange country by a stranger man Mina goes on holiday with her close friend Lucy, a woman juggling two men and penchant for sleepwalking.
I have never seen or read Dracula in any of its forms and Arrows and Traps’s Ross McGregor has provided a clear adaptation, with characters removed (Lucy Westenra does not need three paramours) and the gender swap of Renfield (Cornelia Baumann) working to the production’s advantage as it hints she was one of Dracula’s ‘sisters’ rather than his former solicitor as in the original and her scene with Mina Murray (Beatrice Vincent) is a realistic portrayal of Mina feeling maternal towards this unfortunate woman.
It also creates some interesting sexual chemistry with Alex Stevens’ Jack Seward, rejected by Lucy in favour of Arthur (Oliver Brassell) he presents himself as desperate and almost as ill-looking as the vampires and he is lovesick and drained of energy working in the asylum.
McGregor’s direction embraces the cosy studio space to make the horror feel very close and he subtlety brings out Stoker’s themes of female sexuality and desire, Post Traumatic Stress and immigration as the Romanian Dracula finds himself unwelcome on British streets. There is a lot of gore in this production, but I felt it was used appropriately, there were very few occasions of loud noises but darkness was quite frequent. I would recommend that those nervous about gore and horror should avoid it but they will be missing out on a great production and even better performances. As ever Arrows and Traps’ choreography by Roman Berry gives this production a sexy, atmospheric edge.
Christopher Tester makes the role of Dracula his own, he plays Dracula as a sexy, dominant outsider and Andrew Wickes as Van Helsing gives some authority to the character amongst this young cast Lucy Ioannou as Lucy Westenra gives the character a playful edge and shows her versatility following her fantastic performance as Sophie Scholl in The White Rose. Beatrice Vincent takes on the vulnerability of Mina who is unsure how to help her scarred and weak fiancee Jonathan Harker (Conor Moss ) from his return from Transylvania, what has he been subjected too
This is a clear, fun and atmospheric production of this classic horror story, MacGregor has a knack of giving historical stories a fresh eye without engulfing them as an interpretation
Dracula is on at the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre until 27 October https://brockleyjack.co.uk/jackstudio-entry/dracula/#toggle-id-3