I'm a children's book author, radio presenter of 'By the Book' for Radio Northern Beaches, and freelance writer. Check out www.brydiewright.com for more about
Gothic Horror At Its Best
I'll admit I'm a sucker for the Dracula myth and Bram Stoker's literary classic. I prefer adaptations to be faithful to the gothic horror genre, and kept in-period. And so, I was quietly hopeful on opening night of Shake & Stir's Draculaat Riverside Theatre but also a little reticent. I wanted the production to take me to that scary and atmospheric realm of the original novel. Not an easy feat to accomplish on stage.
Awesomely contemporary promo poster for the faithful adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula
Therefore, it was to my great relief that this new Australian production, not only met but far exceeded my expectations. The performance conjured up memories of the internationally renowned theatre adaptation of The Woman in Black, in all its spooky and suspenseful, Victorian glory. This theatrical version of Dracula is that good and I can see it touring worldwide.
Theatre is an immediate and confronting medium, that can be uncomfortable for the audience, if not done right. It requires professionalism and a seamlessness between the production team, the technical team and the actors on stage. I am delighted to say that there was not one cringe-worthy or uncomfortable moment in this production. The special effects were haunting and effective, the script compelling, the acting superb, the comedy well-placed and the staging exceptional.
Shake & Stir Theatre Company understands literary classics and knows how to adapt them from the novel to the stage, staying true to the essence of the story and respecting audience preconceptions. I was thankful that the production's Co-Adaptors Nelle Lee and Nick Skubij and Director Michael Futcher, chose to keep the play in its original Victorian setting, while modernising it with an injection of black humour.
Photo by Dylan Evans c/o- Shake & Stir - Count Dracula and Jonathan Harker
Dracula skilfully abridges Stoker's weighty tome to a 100-minute dramatic performance, faithfully adhering to the major plot elements of Jonathan Harker's imprisonment in Count Dracula's castle, the Vampire's emigration to England, his obsession with Mina Harker and the climactic showdown between Dr Van Helsing and Dracula, fighting to save the soul of Mina and end the scourge of the Count.
Photo by Dylan Evans c/o- Shake & Stir - Count Dracula and the ill-fated Lucy
There was not a weak link in this production and the cast was strong with standouts from David Whitney as lunatic Renfield and larger-than-life Van Helsing, and Nick Skubij as a suitably menacing and charismatic Count. Also impressive in her debut performance for Shake and Stir, was Adele Querol as Lucy, a performance conveying both the revulsion and the attraction of the vampiric curse.
Photo by Dylan Evans c/o- Shake & Stir - Mina bewitching Van Helsing
Since opening in NSW in March, Dracula has been touring the nation, with Queensland the next stop in its 'bloody' journey. The Cremorne Theatre at QPAC will play host to the Count in Brisbane from 15 August - 2 September, with regional theatres also offering dates throughout July and August.
Check tour date listings on the Shake & Stir website and don't miss your opportunity to indulge in this seductively sublime theatre experience.