Dracula review: Sexy yet thought provoking
‘Gaunt, macabre, sexually charged’
Condensing Dracula into a two hour theatrical piece whilst retaining the novel’s haunting atmosphere is a challenging task in the least. Sophie Boddington’s production certainly lives up to the chase and her show, set in the gaunt chamber that is the Norman Chapel, is one of chilling suspense and nightmarish characterisation.
The performances were all noteworthy. Freya Hall’s sexually charge take on Lucy Westerman, as a young eligible girl exposed to the evils of society, was marked by an acute sense of humour and a capricious shift towards a modernisation of the promiscuous 19th century femme fatale. Kyle Kirkpatrick and Keir Mulcahey, as Count Dracula and Jonathan Harker respectively, handled the lengthy dramatic intercourse between the two characters with poise and grace, shifting tone when required. The supporting cast were equally impressive with a range of accents, polarising set pieces and an adept delivery of the script’s lyricism.
This production paid venerable attention to the character of Renfield, played brilliantly by Harry Twining. His character raised religious questions as well as issues concerning mental health, giving the production some philosophical overtones.
The intimate staging, the dynamic lighting and the haunting string quartet (wonderfully directed by Samuel Abel) contributed to the macabre tone, synchronising well with the action particularly in the scenes involving the Count and his female prey.
The director masterfully brought out the humanity of each character, including Dracula himself. The performances are sexually charged, tragic, yet morally ambiguous, questioning the extent to which we should give in to our emotions and desires.
Whilst it is not a perfect production – the reactionary acting took a while to smoothen out, several punchlines did not play out to the desired effect. The first half could have benefited from cutting of redundant character development.
Dracula will be playing in the Norman Chapel in University College on the 17th of November.