Bram Stoker’s Nightmare, Dracula

Ullaloom Theatre Company
Unity Theatre, 16th February 2006

Reviewed by Mandy McFarland

Bram Stoker was manager to the actor Henry Irving, a civil servant, lawyer and author of Dracula! The brochure blurb asks 'But what was Mr Stoker really writing about? Is his novel a simple story of good vs. evil? Or is it something far more complex and sinister?' After seeing this play I’d say that it was most definitely the latter. Right from the start I was gripped, and it didn’t let go for a single moment right to the very end. A quick glance round at the audience proved we’d all been pulled into the nightmare of domination, obsession, madness, lust, emasculation, and inevitable tragic death.

Gasps and squeaks sprang up as Dracula (Filippo Fiori) first entered stage left. He stood bathed in eerie light, his bald head and gaunt face chalky white, his eyes hypnotic and piercing, and his whole being oozing that dark, dangerous, menacing sensuality that is both enticing and repelling at the same time. Fiori kept up this wonderful performance throughout, and did not, I repeat did not, over-act this character in the slightest - as alas happens more often than not.

The other four actors - David Milne, Jake Norton, Lucy Bright, Beckah Sloan - also delivered their various and varied roles in such a way that the story unfolded, evolved, and reached its heady climax without being hampered by over or under-acting. They delivered this play beautifully; the transition and transformations of their various characters was flawless, their interaction with each other totally and impressively in tune.

It‘s no mean feat creating horror on a bare stage devoid of technical wizardry to wow and excite, but Ullaloom did just that with only the very clever use of lights, music, and dry ice. But it was the outstanding performances by the actors that made the fear, the chill and the nightmarish horror of this story so very real.

The story itself was very true to the book (and my companion seemed impressed and comforted by that), and you came away feeling you knew just a little bit more about something you thought you knew everything about – the mythical nightmare that is Dracula! If you ever get the chance to catch this again somewhere else, do!

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