Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Dracula, Oct 30 2015 ***

After Bram Stokerby Little Ones Theatre & Theatre Works
Theatre Works, Oct 30 until Nov 14, 2015
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: ***
Full review also published in Herald Sun online on Mon 2 Nov 2015 and thereafter in print. KH
 Amanda McGregor, Kevin Kiernan Molloy, Alex Aldrich - photo by Sarah Walker

Silent movies merge with pantomime in this irreverent parody of Bram Stoker’s Dracula featuring that lusty, fanged vampire as a comical composite of Bela Lugosi, Buster Keaton and Gloria Swanson.

In Stephen Nicolazzo’s production, two women (Alexandra Aldrich, Catherine Davies) share the role of Count Dracula who switches gender, age and sexual preference as often as he changes hairstyle and costume.

The early scenes between Aldrich’s Dracula and Janine Watson, who is compelling as his unwitting victim, Jonathan Harker, are the most entertaining and skillful, featuring classic, silent clown routines, sharp comedic timing, snappy choreography, comic grotesquery, broad gestures and facial expressions.

The stylised, hedonistic feasting is a highlight, with Dracula (Aldrich) and his under-dressed underlings (Kevin Kiernan Molloy, Morgan Maguire) ritualistically tantalising the blokey, bemused Harker (Watson) with food, drink and sensual delights.

After 30 minutes, the crispness of this gothic style is lost, the story and characters become confusing, the timing flabby and the theatrical devices overwrought, leaving the next hour much less coherent and professional.

Without the program notes that outline the narrative machinations, an audience has little chance of following the characters’ journeys, particularly when they change gender, costume and even the actors playing the roles.

Catherine Davies is a luscious, lascivious young Dracula in his/her blood red gown, Amanda McGregor’s Mina is a feisty man-girl, while Molloy’s Van Helsing is a comical cross between religious maniac and fitness freak.

Redheaded Zoe Boesen is suitably delicate as Lucy, Dracula’s virginal victim, but Brigid Gallacher, a fine actor, is wasted in the extraneous role of the imprisoned madman, Renfield.

The stage design (Eugyeene Teh) with its glittering silvery-black floor and sheer lamé drapery captures the gothic castle of Dracula as well as the silent movie ‘silver screen’.

The atmosphere is heightened by an evocative soundscape (Daniel Nixon) underscoring the entire show.

Dracula is a valiant theatrical attempt that is entertaining in its artifice, parody and campery, but it cries out for clarity and consistency.

By Kate Herbert
Director Stephen Nicolazzo
Set Design Eugyeene Teh
Costume Design Eugyeene Teh and Tessa Leigh Wolffenbuttel Pitt
Lighting Design Katie Sfetkidis
Sound Design & Composition Daniel Nixon
Performers: Alexandra Aldrich, Zoe Boesen, Catherine Davies, Brigid Gallacher, Amanda McGregor, Morgan McGuire, Kevin Kiernan Molloy and Janine Watson
 Alex Aldrich -photo by Sarah Walker
 Amanda McGregor and Zoe Boeson -photo by Sarah Walker
Kevin Kiernan Molloy -photo by Sarah Walker

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