Entertainment Hive 2020

Dracula by Bram Stoker, created and adapted by Shake & Stir

Adelaide Festival Centre, Space Theatre until September 16

Review by Honey B

Bram Stroker’s Dracula is the original vampire to me and it still sets the bar high. These days vampires are having a popular resurgence and they are as scary as they are sexy. Shake & Stir has passionately taken on the challenge of re- creating Bram Stoker’s classic 1897 gothic horror novel for the stage and have succeeded in unleashing a thrilling, yet measured, atmosphere on-stage. Directed by Michael Futcher the fog rolled onto the stage and around the audience as young lawyer Jonathan Harker (Michael Wahr) rode by train through the Carpathian Mountains and journeyed on to the foreboding Castle Dracula. The castle was eerie and dark and beautifully spooky when lit just by torch-light. Set designer Josh McIntosh has done a superb job with a rotating set, giant staircase and he has created individual areas for each character as the play progresses. The lighting by Jason Glenwright and the sound by Guy Webster also added hugely to the production and kept the audience on the edge of their seats. Count Dracula (Nick Skubij) was looking weary in his long black robe, slicked back white blonde hair and sunken-in cheeks as he greeted the young and impressionable Harker. Skubij was brilliant as Dracula and there was never a moment where the audience didn’t believe he was the walking/floating undead – he had a mesmerising supernatural quality. Harker as the hapless young solicitor, who was lured to Castle Dracula to complete a land deal and unwittingly help him expand his empire, was wonderfully naive and loyal to a fault. Once in London and leaving Harker behind in the deathly Castle, Dracula sets his sights on Harker’s fiancée Mina (Nellie Lee) and her friend Lucy (Adele Querol). Here Drac has changed his look with short hair and a leather jacket, he has his mojo back. Both Lee and Querol gave strong and riveting performances, with Lee the more grounded of the two and Querol a more vivacious, carefree spirit. Querol was transfixing as she transformed while her former beau Jack (Ross Balbuziente) and Van Helsing (David Whitney) tried to save her. Whitney was strong as Van Helsing and he was also darkly mesmerising playing the dual role of the crazy Renfield. There was a lot packed into this well-performed theatrical production, and maybe times have changed but I couldn’t help hoping the seductive vampires would win out. A bloody classic. (Rated out of five stars)
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