Saturday, 9 March 2013

REVIEW: Dracula~ The Original Twilight Saga ~IB~ Babies- Fairfield Halls.



Photo's courtesy of the Fairfield halls... Rehearsal shots

‘Dracula the original twilight saga,’ was adapted for the stage by Liz Lochhead who defined her idea as creating a timeless work with modern touches. I appreciated Liz's take on the story and was impressed with the cast. Musically Dracula was strong with, ‘The lunatics have taken over the asylum,’ and ‘Peaches on the Beaches’ creating electrifying undertones- adding to the drama.

The two sisters, Lucy and Mina Westerman, (played by Anna Doolan and Beatrice Rose respectively,) opened the play. By using a ‘swing’ the girls' youth and innocence was cleverly projected whilst their characters skilfully depicted a healthy level of sibling rivalry and sisterly love. Both actresses had extreme fluctuations of character to express within their roles and afterwards Beatrice described how she enjoys playing characters who are ‘going through a journey.’ Beatrice especially enjoyed the challenge of projecting the change in Mina, from a virtuous ‘motherly’ sister to a newly married young women in a state of insatiable lust- who is suddenly distraught over the death of her sister (which she could not comprehend.) Mina went on to have her own ‘hypnotic’ encounter with Dracula following which she took the brave decision to stick by her husband and travel to an unknown destination (Dracula’s castle,) blindfolded. Anna’s character, Lucy, experienced changes too, switching between girl and vampire, with both roles well interpreted.

Although timeless, I felt that the predominantly modern aspect of the play was essentially in the way Dracula was portrayed; Jos Vantyler’s performance being rather more suave than ruthless. Andy Brady who played Dr Seward, and Isaac Stanmore, playing Jonathan Harker a real estate agent, both did justice to their roles which primarily focused on the balance between their emotional states, coping with extraordinary events and their professions. Felicity Dean juggled two very different characters, Florrie- the Westerman’s personal maid and Doctor Goldman, an upbeat yet laid back character who had a very touching relationship with Renfield. Miles Barden, playing Van Helsing, first put in an appearance during the second half of the play. Whilst Miles gave a competent performance, there was something about the role that I felt required strengthening.


The cast of Dracula
The most difficult part to act was Renfield- the ‘lunatic,’ and Jay Worthy gave a highly credible performance. Renfield’s initial insane mutterings about Lucy’s destiny planted an almost subliminal fear in my mind and this was re-iterated again later in the play; possibly making it the scariest aspect of the show- to generate fear is not so easy in modern society! Renfield went on to speak about the horror of receiving ECT (Electro Convulsive Therapy as depicted in, ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’- Jack Nicholson,) which thankfully is less commonly used these days. The ‘gem’ of his mutterings was a very thought provoking comment made after he had been reprimanded for biting the heads off live birds, a loose interpretation- ’they think that eating dead meat is normal but I think it’s a form of necrophilia!’ Renfield remained a constant presence on the stage which created suspense and greatly contributed to the success of the play. At times he remained stock still and at others produced variations of the foetal position! Overall I received the impression that Renfield was being torn in two by fear of the knowledge he possessed and clearly wanted to break free from his master, Dracula. When Jay spoke about his perception of Renfield, Jay conveyed that he believed Renfield was acting as Dracula’s conscience, so by default once Dracula killed Renfield he set himself free.


Dracula seduces Mina
The killing of Lucy was a dramatic moment and I was not sure what to make of it at the time. Upon reflection, a flash of white light at the point of her death embodies the idea of restoring her soul to peace and strips her of evil so is actually quite appropriate.

I was surprised to learn that the cast had only two weeks of rehearsals, receiving the script a month previously, leaving them little time to learn their lines and, equally importantly, study and research their characters. My view: they did an excellent job and I hope that we will be treated to more showings of this production in the future.

Jaz McKenzie

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