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Theatre Review: Dracula

10 October 18 words: Tanya Louise

Brilliant spine tingling gothic horror

A blood spattered rose
The Halloween season got off to bang (literally) as Dracula swooped into the Theatre Royal Nottingham.
Without giving away too much of the magic and mystery, the show starts with an almighty bang. - followed by audible gasps from the audience. With this the scene is set for some brilliant spine tingling horror in this reimagining by the Touring Consortium Theatre Company. Expect to be on the edge of your seat with your heart in your mouth as a series of flashes, crashes, screams and optical illusions unfold to tell the classic 1897 Bram Stoker tale.
Whether it is this, the Francis Ford Coppola version or one the countless radio, TV and Hollywood films. you're probably familiar with the basics of the 'Dracula' story. I'm ashamed to say I never read the book, but I do remember the old black and white films being on the telly as a kid, the dark cape and the fangs. Sticking fairly closely to the original story, this bold production, produced by Matthew Gale and adapted for stage by Jenny King, has a more modern feel to it, whilst maintaining the qualities that make a classic great. Sudden blackouts give pshychological rise to the unknown as our Count appears to emerge out of nowhere in the darkness. Rather rely on flashy special effects, the production leans more on the side of illusion and magic with Ben Hart’s incredible design. I'm guessing you could watch it over again and still wonder how it's done. 
Directed by Eduard Lewis, I wouldn't go as far as saying it's terrifying, more an evil ride, as our Dracula (Glen Fox) who by the way has ditched the slicked back gelled hair look in favour of a spikier barnet, pursues his victims and encounters Jonathan Harker (Andrew Horton), Professor Van Helsing (Philip Bretherton) and Doctor Seward (Evan Milton) along the way, as well as a brilliant gender-flipped Renfield (Cheryl Campbell)
Seriously immersive, the racier undercurrents of Stoker's original manifest themselves as vixens after a bit of supernatural homoerotic hanky-panky, On the whole it's as sexy as it is dark, giving new meaning to the saying 'things that go bump in the night' as the beautiful whimsical nightie clad leading ladies succumb almost orgasmically to the er...charms of our Dracula. Jessica Webber and Olivia Swann both delivering outstanding performances. 
The set is a gothic dream with fantastic stage and lighting design. Metallic pillars and arches, glide on and off stage transporting us from Whitby to a Transylvanian castle via a lunatic asylum. Three-dimensional sound effects which travel around the speakers in the theatre give you that 'somethings behind you' sensation too, and with the actors making use of the auditorium, at times it often is!
If you're a fan of good old fashioned horror, the story of Dracula, or just feeling that your nerves are shot, you're in for real treat - you can 'count' on it.
Dracula runs at the Theatre Royal until Saturday 13th October.

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