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.
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
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...