Wednesday, 19 March 2014


Middlesbrough Theatre
With a cast of just five people and a minimalist set, the Blackeyed Theatre production of Bram Stoker's Dracula represented an ambitious undertaking.

John Ginman's adaptation aims to ''create a fully theatrical experience that engages with the book's key concerns, which are of abiding and compelling fascination.'' Dracula can certainly draw in the crowds; the Middlesbrough Theatre was packed and one could sense a palpable ripple of excitement and anticipation as the houselights went down to signal the impending evening of creepy entertainment.

The cast worked hard to switch between a plethora of characters, which each member portraying a number of different people, from the main parts - Dracula, Professor Van Helsing, Jonathan Harker, Doctor Seward, Lucy Westenra and Mina Harker - to others such as the zoophagous maniac, Renfield.

Snatches of music and song helped to establish location in imaginative fashion and the set was utilised very efficiently and effectively to switch key locations in the blink of an eye.

Paul Kevin-Taylor doubled up in the roles of Dracula and Professor Van Helsing; both were magnificently realised, but it made a direct encounter between the key protagonists impossible.

Blood and gore were conveyed with subtlety rather than in explicit terms, which served the play well. Dracula's nobility, presence and power were delivered courtesy of a strong theatrical performance and didn't need any special effects.

All in all, it was an inventive retelling of a familiar story, delivered in style. An entertaining and thought provoking evening.

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