"The True Story" turns out to be not all that different from the others: Mina Harker's friend (and the Count's first victim) Lucy is blessed with a phalanx of suitors who counterbalance Dracula's trio of Brides, a kind of vampiric Ikettes; the Dracula/Mina axis is delineated less through confrontation than its effects upon Mina, and she stands revealed as a prime mover (along with Van Helsing) in the collective campaign to defeat the vampire rather than as a passive female victim.
Amanda Barlow's adaptation, though, fails to find the necessary dramatic fluidity; a good 20 minutes of the 2:40 running time consist of minor set changes (shifting the marble tomb which is the only sizeable feature) and fading lights between scenes rather than cutting them. Patrick Gordon's Count looks less vampiric than lycanthropic (not a jibe, just an observation), and try as he might, he lacks the required urbanity and mesmerism. Thane Bettany and Amanda Fawsett hold their respective ends up well as Van Helsing and Mina (the Prof. really is a thankless role, accent and all), and Steven Woodhouse's Renfield is both comic and disturbing; but despite these performances, and clever use of the gallery and closets of this venue's Elizabethan-period stage, the production remains sadly light on fear, sex and above all on drama.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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