Billed as ’emotionally fulfilling, utterly terrifying, and spellbindingly addictive’, Jenny King’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula takes the stage at Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre. Directed by Eduard Lewis, It promised astounding special effects paired with the classic vampire story that started it all – perfect for the spooky season.
The program informs me that the actors vary from stage and screen veterans to those making their professional stage debuts – and at times, it shows. Olivia Swann’s Mina is sincerely acted, but often pales compared to bubbly and bright Lucy, played by Jessica Webber. Of course, due to the personality of their respective characters, this could be deliberate.
Evan Milton as Doctor Seward, and Philip Bretherton as Professor van Helsing, also provided sincere performances. However, I found Chery Campbell’s Lady Renfield to be a particular highlight. Her character is eclectic and unpredictable and she mapped her character’s journey in the insane asylum with ease. Special mention must also be given to the versatile supporting cast: Stuart Angell, Charlotte Gosling, Jen Holt, Henry Maynard, Benedict Smith, Marina Stoimenova, and Ellen Verenieks are nurses, station masters, vixens, townspeople, and even stagehands.
Much of the play follows Jonathan Harker, (Andrew Horton), a solicitor imprisoned in the castle of Count Dracula (Glen Fox). Though it’s a well-known story, I found the sudden shifts between Harker’s narrative strange and the others’, especially when paired with the light-hearted scenes featuring Lucy and Mina back home in Yorkshire. Fox’s portrayal of Dracula is very strong, but he is hurt by a script that is sometimes a little overindulgent. At moments I was unsure if the play was meant to be a thriller or a comedy; certain acting choices meant there were titters from the audience in some of the show’s more serious scenes.
The stage effects were, as promised, incredible. The show starts with a bang – literally, with the lights of the house flashing off. It makes the audience jump, and sit up in their seats. The appearance and disappearance of Dracula in Lucy’s room is seamless, as he is one moment under the bed sheet and the next completely gone. Fog and a surround-sound track of bats usher out the first act, feeling almost too real.
While I found the script of the play to be a little disorganised, the efforts of the cast and the production value of the show redeem it very much in my eyes. This is perfect for a long-time lover of Dracula, or someone looking for an impressive visual scare.
PHOTOS: Capital Theatres