Dracula at The Lion and Unicorn
Dracula, now showing at The Lion and Unicorn Theatre, is an ambitious adaptation of Bram Stoker’s vampire classic by the Okai Collier Company. They have been supporting new theatre talent since 1994, nominated on multiple occasions for the Peter Brook Equity Ensemble Award. Simon James Collier not only adapted the script, but is also at the helm as director.
Pub theatre can be a real joy when done well. Being so close to the actors creates an intimacy that means the audience is not simply engaged but involved throughout the performance. It puts actors under a scrutiny they are excused from in larger theatres. Dracula works surprisingly well in such a small space.
How refreshing to see the Count played by someone who is actually from Eastern Europe. It brings integrity to a role that has an unavoidable campness to it. Rather than denying or highlighting this factor, the director walks a fine and knowing line between the two. Cristinel Hogas is probably the most attractive Dracula ever to grace the stage; his mesmerising face and imposing stature makes one wonder if the decision to stage the play was made after someone noticed that he would make the perfect Prince of Darkness.
The director seems to have a penchant for this very visual casting. In fact, all the actors have wonderfully expressive, almost caricature features. Mina’s (Josephine Rattigan) eyes are so huge, very little else can be seen while they are on stage. Grant Leat, though, steals the limelight as soon as he steps into it as the coach-driving gypsy. He later stuns with an impressively physical performance as the tormented Renfield.
The script is adapted masterfully and shouldn’t cause offence to any fans of the novel. It’s quite satisfying to see Lucy’s arduous monologues reduced so succinctly. Everything in the script is necessary, without feeling like a simple succession of plot points.
Dracula is an extremely enjoyable and impassioned production. To see the vampire hunters frantically race to the castle is well worth the ticket price alone. Although the smoke machine is at times a little overzealous, this show would make an unconventional Valentine’s treat for anyone single or wanting to avoid cheesy restaurants. It’s a delight, if not only for the pure fun factor, but for the honour of watching such a talented and beguiling cast.
Photo: Adam Dechanel
Dracula is on at The Lion and Unicorn Theatre until 14th March 2015, for further information or to book visit here.