Bram Stoker's Nightmare...Dracula

By Ullaloom Theatre Company
Unity Theatre, Liverpool, 3rd-5th March, 2005

Reviewed by Julian Bond

With compadre in step, I went along with other children of the night for the late show of the Liverpool-based company Ullaloom’s version of Dracula, an attempt to combine the drama within Bram Stoker’s novel and autobiographical details from the man’s life.

The writers are to be commended for the skill of combining an analytical rendering of the sexual and societal desires that influenced Bram Stoker’s late Victorian morality.

An expressionistic set (a la Cabinet of Dr Calagari) supported the action very well and was cleverly designed for economy of movement between scenes. A lot of attention had been given to lighting with evocative use of light and darkness necessary for such a tale. Similarly the sound - heavy metal soundtrack in part - use of ticking clocks etc, was well thought out. Overall such economies were put to good use in pinpointing and focusing our minds on particular emotional states of characters.

However the execution of the tale left a lot to be desired, and I regret to say the production had two glaring faults. To my mind, if one undertakes Dracula it has to be scary (if not terrifying or disturbing) and it has to be erotic. Though both were attempted, both failed. I found myself laughing when I was clearly meant to be affected. The actors were entirely competent - Filippo Fiori as Dracula, had a humorous, beguiling posture - but it was all very tame, my heartbeat remained steady throughout and I wished for the end that was to be denied to some.

To my mind the company needs to focus on ratcheting up the intensity if they want to be part of the horror tradition of Guignol and all.