– by Andrew Charlton
Put on at the Nexus theatre, by the Murdoch University Theatre Company, Dracula is the first of three classical horror plays. It was the shortest of all three, and in my opinion, the weakest.
The acting was magnificent, let me just start with that. The star of the play is without a doubt the mad man who is tormented by Dracula and slowly becoming a vampire himself.
Dracula is both my favourite and least favourite part of the play.
Dracula was a close second, but the hand movements, the facial expressions and the vocal range of the madman really set him above the rest of the play. He made you feel genuinely unsettled with his madness, as you were never sure how lucid he really was.
Speaking of Dracula though, he is both my favourite, and least favourite part of the play. He has the charisma and stage presence deserving of a vampire, dominating the stage, and has the devil’s own confidence. But he wasn’t… Scary.
Now, the times he dominated others minds, and whispered commands to them, the way they would go slack like puppets on a string and follow his demands, that was unsettling.
But Dracula himself wasn’t intimidating like the other monsters. The others felt like they were the ones in control at all times, but in many ways, Dracula was on the back foot. He is cowed by herbs and holy symbols, forced to race into the night, and ultimately outsmarted by Van Helsing. I just never really felt the aura of menace I feel “the king of vampires” should exude. His death only surmounted this feeling further.
Now, I know this is how it goes in the book, and every other play, but that doesn’t dispel the disappointment of them simply walking into Draculas house and stabbing him in his sleep. It happened so quickly, the second half of the play barely lasted twenty minutes, and it was just a huge anti-climax.
Overall, the acting in the play was stellar, as was the lightning and fog work, but the lack of menace, and the anticlimactic ending dragged the play down for me.
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