Review by Peter McGarry

Peter McGarry is an experienced, independent professional theatre critic who has agreed to review Talisman Theatre productions.
Peter is free to express his opinions for good or ill. The Talisman Theatre has no control whatsoever over the content of these reviews and will not comment publicly on what he writes.

Dracula (2015):
The opening visual effect is a stunner. It anticipates an evening of deep dark, blood-curdling drama.

This feeling extends as we join a coachload of travellers suffering super-scary reactions in the mountains and Jonathan Harker nearing his deadly destiny at Dracula Castle. Unfortunately, what follows seldom achieves any more of the true chill of Bram Stoker's Gothic original.

Much depends on how you like your vampire Count. A tall, suave, silver-tongued Christopher Lee type? Or a short, tongue-twisting Bela Lugosi, perhaps? The Talisman achieves a cross between the two. In the hands of Alistair Jolliffe, he is tall, but beset by a laboured Hungarian accent which seriously hampers the dialogue and certainly reduces his fright factor.

Much of this is down to the script by writer/director Sam Harris which is relentlessly wordy in places. It does, however, produce a moment of rare hilarity when Professor Van Helsing strides forward after a clearly obvious death scene to proclaim to the audience: "She's dead!"

As a play, Dracula is never easy to make convincing on stage. Here the sets by James Harris are fine and lighting and sound effects are first-class, but the dialogue and many of the performances are - well - bloodless. The script is occasionally muddled, especially in the early exchanges between Harker and the Count.

We can be thankful for Alice Scott's delightfully spirited portrayal of the subsequently victimised Lucy, for a dignified Mrs Westenra from Rosemary Gowers, and for Dan Gough's stylish descent from the brisk and bookish Harker into a quivering vampire beanfeast.

But the other characters fail to ignite in what sets out to be a serious interpretation but would be better served as yet another spoof.

After a lengthy first half, I have to confess I was duly out for the Count...



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