Dracula – Review – Bradford Alhambra

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Dracula Alhambra 2018

Dracula – Review

Bradford Alhambra, November 2018

by Steve Crabtree – @stevecrab

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one of those characters that everyone has heard of. And whether it be the book, TV, radio or cinema adaptations, the majority of people have come across the story today.

Tonight it was the stage’s turn to perform the tale, and the Alhambra was the setting.

Dracula Alhambra 2018

“Started with a bang”

The house lights went down suddenly and the play started with a bang. A thunderbolt, a flash of lighting, and hundreds of vibrations as everyone jumped in their seat. I was hoping that this had set the tone for the couple of hours we had to come.

As our heart’s returned to their normal beat, we see Jonathan Harker (Andrew Horton) saying farewell to his dear beloved Mina at the start of his journey to Transylvania, and the story of Dracula began to unfold.

And everything you want from a Dracula performance was here. Vampires, blood, garlic, wooden steaks…more blood. And what was noticeable was the magnificent set.

“I wanted to be gripped”

Dark Gothic backdrops and dramatic lighting and effects were consistent, and were impressive. I give 10 out of 10 when it comes to setting the scene. The fast changes from Lucy’s house in Whitby, to the asylum where Lady Renfield spends her days were smooth and effortless too, and I tip my hat to the Touring Consortium Theatre Company for what they’d created.

But I did find this stage version of Dracula something of a difficult watch. Not throughout the whole show, but in regular segments.  I found the flow of the story to be a little flaky at times. I wanted to be gripped, I wanted to be thrilled. In truth, I didn’t really feel either. After all, this is Dracula – one of the most famous horror stories in the world, and I perhaps found that lots of dialogue had taken the drama and the impact away from the production.

Still, Dracula had it’s great moments.

“Shudder”

Olivia Swann’s portrayal of Mina Murray, and the growth of her character throughout the show was a highlight of the evening. Glen Fox also pulled off an imposing Dracula. His balance of menace, with a touch of humour was enjoyed by the whole audience, although one member did say they’d expected to see him more. On reflection, I agree.

There were a couple moments when the sound of breaking bones, or the tearing through of flesh and cartilage made you shudder. And much of the cast are brilliant in their roles. Evan Milton played the often stuttering, and sometimes confident Doctor Seward well. And Jessica Webber’s did fine work in her portrayal of the sweet and upbeat Lucy too.

Despite the scenes of combat between characters not being executed as well as they could have been, there were some scenes of illusion that make you go wow.  And in the second act, as Mina becomes the latest target for the Count, the hunt for Dracula and the want for his demise intensifies as does the drama.

As we left the Alhambra, I personally thought Dracula was good, but not great. I was expecting more. But from eavesdropping on the conversations on my way out, I can say that there were many people who’d clearly loved the show.

Dracula runs at the Alhambra until Saturday, 1st December.

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