Mark Bruce’s Dracula at Bristol Old Vic

7 October 2014

image by farrows creative

Photo: Farrows Creative.

Being a bit of a goth, you can imagine how delighted I was to be asked along to the press night for Mark Bruce’s superlative and erotic reimagining of Dracula at the Bristol Old Vic. I usually write reviews within a day or so of the performance but my illness means that I’ve fallen a bit behind. Sorry! However, although this show has now moved on from Bristol – it’s currently on tour though (it’s in Manchester on Friday and Saturday this week before moving on to Birmingham next Wednesday) so you should be able to see it elsewhere.

Although I love a bit of gothic horror, I have to say that vampires have never really appealed to me all that much. Possibly my OCD and related fear of the unsanitary renders the whole blood sucking aspect just too horrible or maybe it’s the sleazy widow peaked sauveness of vampires that I find off-putting or possibly I’ve just spent far too much time fending off guys dressed up as Spike from Buffy in goth clubs. Whatever the reason, I think that I’ve always been more of a werewolf girl to be honest. Arrooooo. Ahem. Anyway.

image by farrows creative

Photo: Farrows Creative.

However, my distaste for vampires aside, I thoroughly enjoyed my evening with Dracula, during which I was swept away by some of the most cheek warmingly sensual dancing that I have ever beheld. It was also impossible not to be beguiled by the beautiful lighting, inventively gothic set and never anything less than apt musical score, which used such well known pieces as the Moonlight Sonata and the Lacrimosa from Mozart’s Requiem to great and dramatic effect.

It was the exquisite dancing that kept us completely spellbound though – from Jonathan Goddard’s sinister bat like swoopings and contortions as the evil but melancholic eponymous Count to the kittenish elegance of Kristin McGuire’s Lucy Westenra and naïve gravitas of Eleanor Duval’s Mina. Although the cast used no actual dialogue, their movements carried the story along with tremendous verve, breathing life into the undead and mesmerising the audience, who were revolted one minute, charmed the next and then amused a second later. High points for me were the scene when Dracula seduces Lucy and transforms her from flirtatious bride to be into seductive vampire and the scenes set in Transylvania, which were redolent of all the superstitious eastern European eeriness, wolves, dancing peasants and awful suspense that one could possibly require.

image by farrows creative

Photo: Farrows Creative.

I have to say though that it was the three Brides who stole the show for me, acting as they did as a sort of gorgeous Greek chorus to set the scene on the minimal set and provide some much needed local colour, humour and context via a variety of different costume changes. Although the rest of the cast was superb, they were, I felt, outstanding and added a dash of almost burlesque drama and comic relief (always much needed in any horror production!), particularly in their main guise as the blood splattered, wild eyed and fiercely loyal Brides of Dracula, screeching and rolling about in their crypt or hissing furiously at Jonathan Harker before he inevitably succumbs to their toils.

It’s a passionate, disturbing but ultimately thought provoking interpretation of Bram Stoker’s classic, that transforms the hoary old tale of unsanitary blood sucking into a bleak and powerful romance.

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As an aside, what do you think of the dress I wore for the occasion? It’s my new and much longed for What A Mess blood splatter dress from Black Milk Clothing, which arrived in just the nick of time! BEHOLD MY VAMPIRIC MAJESTY! Or something.

Set against the infamous Jack the Ripper murders of autumn 1888 and based on the author’s own family history, From Whitechapel is a dark and sumptuous tale of bittersweet love, friendship, loss and redemption and is available NOW from Amazon UK, Amazon US and Burning Eye.

‘Frothy, light hearted, gorgeous. The perfect summer read.’ Minette, my young adult novel of 17th century posh doom and intrigue is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US and is CHEAP AS CHIPS as we like to say in dear old Blighty.

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