Bram Stoker’s legendary Count is brought back to life by The Sherman Players in this thoroughly imaginative adaptation. Dracula is a production brimming with ambitious ideas and strong central performances, proving that amateur companies can match professional standards. Its flaws, though, illustrate what can hold those same companies back.
Visually, the piece is stunning. Staging it in the round was a courageous decision from director Phillip Mackenzie, but the right one. The audience look down on the action from the balcony like Dracula watching over his victims, while excellent sound and lighting design ensure that the titular villain’s own introduction (played by Alys Wilcox) is superbly chilling.
Wilcox is excellent as Dracula, managing to keep grounded a role that could easily have teetered into melodrama. She’s overshadowed only by Saskia Pay and Meg Lewis. Both actors play Lucy Westerman, confidently displaying both the naivety and sexuality of the seduced virgin.
Many of the central characters are played by two people, allowing more of the actors to be on stage, but it doesn’t really enhance the show. The production also suffers from a slow middle third and a jarringly abrupt climax. Dracula’s demise, in particular, is quick and anticlimactic, in stark contrast to his measured entrance.
There is a lot to love about this retelling of Dracula, and cast and crew have to be commended for producing a show that can stand up against a professional standard. Pacing does let the piece down, but great performances and inventive direction raise it back up.