Aridhi Anderson is a theatremaker, performer and reviewer based in Melbourne. Check out her work at aridhianderson.com.
A delightfully clever adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula
Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula is the cornerstone of all major modern explorations into vampire fantasy and has been remade and adapted probably more times than it's humanly possible to keep up with. Melbourne-based comedy duo Innes Lloyd have thrown their hat into the ring and have come up with a hilarious comic adaptation of their own that is clever, contemporary, and yet surprisingly faithful to the original text.
It begins with lawyer Jonathan Harker travelling to Transylvania to assist his firm's mysterious client, Count Dracula, with his real estate interests in London. As the plot unfolds, Harker and his fiancee Mina discover unsettling facts about the Count and his true intentions in London. Together with Mina's academic supervisor Professor Van Helsing, her friend Lucy Westenra, and Lucy's fiance Quincey Morris, they embark on an adventure to defeat the Count's machinations. But not without periodic stops to learn some Fun Facts, and play a few games of Monopoly.
Innes Lloyd's Dracula is a brilliant satirical adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel which pays sincere respect to the original work despite mercilessly poking fun at it the whole way. Abounding in pop culture references, lovely artwork, classic comedic techniques and special effects, catchy music, and even references to news from Melbourne's theatre scene, this show is intelligent and well-crafted, maintaining a consistently energetic pace and drawing genuine belly laughs from the audience. It is performed skillfully by Jennifer Speirs as Mina Harker, and the delightful David Innes and Rob Lloyd as literally everyone else.
The show is excellently researched, and the makers have taken great care to develop distinct characterization for all the major characters in the show: the Count, Jonathan Harker, Mina Seward, Lucy Westenra, Renfield, Van Helsing, and Quincey. The transitions between characters are often very swift and short, but they're always convincingly executed, and never once fall flat. Astute artistic decisions have gone into the making of Lucy Westenra's character, in particular, successfully retaining all the graphic gore of the novel without compromising the comedic impact of her role in this show. This is no mean feat, as anyone who is familiar with this character's fate might already understand. David Innes and Rob Lloyd do a wonderful job with character voices and accents for all their characters, especially the Count and Renfield. I confess that I did wish a little that Van Helsing had been portrayed as Dutch, as in the original novel, but the fact that he wasn't didn't take anything away from the show at all.
Innes Lloyd's Dracula is a delightful show that deserves big audiences. Innes and Lloyd are supremely comfortable comedians, in complete control of their performances, often choosing to briefly step out of character to acknowledge audience reactions. The duo, and indeed the equally talented Jennifer Speirs, create a warm vibe that makes the audience feel like they're along for a quality adventure, one that is sure to enrich their engagement with the intriguing world of vampire fantasy.