Sunday, 1 November 2015

Dracula review

Little Ones Theatre is back with bite in their nearly all-female, silent production of Stoker's classic 1897 gothic horror story, Dracula. It is a brilliant homage to previous adaptations of Draculawith nods to Bela Legosi, Gary Oldman and Catherine Deneuve, while also including the company's trademark exploration of sexuality and queerness.

The seductive Dracula is "brought to life" by Alexandra Aldrich and Catherine Davies, with Davies playing a more youthful transformation of the bloodsucker. As one expected with films made during the silent era, on-screen performances need to be more emphatic and expressive, and on stage, Aldrich and Davies (like the rest of the cast) do not falter. Under the strong direction of Stephen Nicolazzo, their movements and actions are large and telling while still maintaining a menacing air of mystery around Dracula. 

Janine Watson as Jonathan Harker, Mina Murray's fiancĂ©, who in turn is the obsession of Dracula, convincingly shows the emotional turmoil Harker goes through, beginning with his initial hapless meeting with the Count. The only male cast member, Kevin Kiernan Molloy certainly nails it (so to speak) as vampire hunter Van Helsing. Molloy portrays him with much bravado and machismo as here to save the day, but ultimately it is he who is a threat to those around him; he is shown to be the destabilising force.

All the various stage elements of this production seamlessly come together and work extremely well in supporting each other. Katie Sfetkidis' lighting design is a highlight with some memorable moments created from its play with darkness and shadows. Along with Daniel Nixon's original score, the emotion of both music and light heighten the tension as the story builds to its climatic conclusion. The sparkling all-black stage design by Eugyeene Teh paired with Tessa Leigh Wolffenbuttel Pitt's and Teh's near black and white costume designs pay further homage to the 19th century silent film era.

The Little Ones Theatre's streak of creating unique theatrical experiences continues here with this production of Dracula. While we may be familiar with the gothic and erotic nature behind the famous story, the striking camp and queer elements the company explores ensures that this retelling retains a high level of surprises and entertainment for audiences.

Venue: Theatreworks, 14 Acland St, St Kilda
Season: Until 14 November | Wed- Sat 8:00pm
Tickets: $35 Full | $25 Conc
Bookings: Theatreworks

* Original review appeared on Theatre Press on 1 November

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