Chilling and thrilling an excellent production
here's my thoughts for Artshub
A thrilling, chilling adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic. Shake & stir bring Dracula thrillingly to life.
Shake and stir have brought Bram Stoker’s Gothic thriller of vampires and the supernatural chillingly alive in this magnificent gripping production of Dracula.You will be mesmerized and on the edge of your seat.
Based on Stoker’s book, interwoven with voice-over narration and readings of the diary, sets the scene and follows the progress of time. Under Michael Futcher’s inspired direction, the dark chilling atmosphere is eerily invoked and there is much use of haze, dry ice, torch-lit exploration of the castle – and yes quite a bit of blood – note how it has seeped into the walls.
Jason Glenwright’s lighting is extraordinarily effective, mostly dark and gloomy with lightning flashes and crashes and some pyrotechnical effects too. Josh Mcintosh’s huge set is fabulous, eerie and spectacular with a huge staircase. Much use is made of the revolve, which allows for many fluid scene changes as well as oozing fog and portentous sound design by Guy Webster. The director and designers have allocated set spaces for certain locations such as the Count's castle, Lucy's bedroom, Renfields' cell and so on as well as delineating various other places such as coach or train stations, the ship wreck of the Demeter that runs aground and the cliffs at Whitby. Costumes are the late 1800s – corsets and three peice suits – yet some freedom is allowed in the changes of the Count's costumes and hair to suit the differing climates of England and Europe. The thrilling fight scenes as choreographed by Nigel Poultpn display the frantic frenzy of the duel between the vampire hunters and Dracula's supernatural powers.
Nick Skubij as Count Dracula gives a magnificent, spellbinding performance. He is powerful, chillingly charismatic and hypnotic and wickedly tempting. While pursuing Lucy he has long blonde almost silver hair (think Lucien Malfoy in the Harry Potter films) while after Mina he has far shorter reddish hair but the same seductive manner. He stalks with stately measured grace unless provoked (in which case he moves extremely fast).
Doctor Jack Seward was strongly, delightfully played by Ross Balbuziente. Seward works in a mental asylum and is Lucy's jilted lover and a member of the small team of Vampire hunters that develops from Jack's friend Professor Van Helsing's enlightenment of what is unfolding. Balbuziente skilfully lets us see Jack's enormous range of emotions from his anguished ruminations upon Lucy jilting him, the confused dealings with the mad patient Renfield, and the love that he still bears when he sees Lucy’s suffering.
Jonathan Harker, the young English solicitor who has been sent to Transylvania to deliver settlement papers to the strange spooky Count Dracula was excellently played by Michael Wahr. His cool English manners and polite formality are combined with a gradual awareness of the seriousness of his predicament. We see Harker’s worry at the unsettling developments and also his integrity and honesty especially in his love for his fiancé Mina.
Mina is dark and petite, yet fiery and strong willed. She was given a luscious performance by Nellie Lee. She comes across as more grounded and mature than her vivacious perhaps more frivolous friend Lucy. We see her ‘stiff upper lip’ stoically masking her worries about her lover, worries that later prove to be correct.
Lucy, a slightly taller beautiful brunette was given a fine performance by Adele Querol. Lucy has decided to become involved in a relationship with someone that can offer her title and money instead of her long time love Jack Seward. The scenes where they succumb and become vampire brides are chilling.
David Whitney was tremendous as tall, bald charismatic Van Helsing a strong, worthy opponent of the Count, desperately trying to save Lucy and Mina, introducing the now traditional weapons of garlic and a crucifix. We are catapulted into a chilling dark work of eerie adventure that won't let you go until the final lightning bolt hits. It is perhaps advisable to go with a friend so you are not too scared.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
by Bram Stoker
created and adapted by shake & stir theatre co
Warnings: High-level simulated violence & gore. Mid-level sexual & supernatural themes. Use of smoke & haze.
The production will tour all Australian States and Territories, visiting 44 cities and towns:
9 March | Manning Entertainment Centre, Taree
11 March | Capitol Theatre, Tamworth
14 March | Glasshouse Theatre, Port Macquarie
17 March | Newcastle Civic Theatre
21 - 22 March | Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre
23 March | Dubbo Regional Theatre and Convention Centre
25 March | Orange Civic Theatre
28 - 29 March | Laycock Street Theatre, Gosford
1 - 4 April | Riverside Parramatta
7 - 8 April | Griffith Regional Theatre
2 May | Shoalhaven Theatre, Nowra
4 - 5 May | Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre
1 June | Albury Entertainment Centre
12 April | Frankston Arts Centre
19 April | Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre
21 April | Riverslinks Venues, Westside PAC Shepparton
9 May | Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo
12 May | Mildura Arts Centre
15 May | Lighthouse Theatre, Warrnambool
18 - 20 May | Geelong Performing Arts Centre
25 May | Hamilton Performing Arts Centre
27 May | Cardinia Cultural Centre
30 May | Esso BHP Billiton Entertainment Centre, Sale
3 June | Burrinja Theatre, Upwey
6 June | Cardinia Cultural Centre
26 - 29 April | Canberra Theatre Centre
10 June | Theatre North at the Princess, Launceston
14- 15 June | Theatre Royal, Hobart
23 June| Bunbury Entertainment Centre
27 - 28 June | Mandurah Performing Arts Centre
30 June | Geraldton Performing Arts Centre
8 July | Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs
14 July | Darwin Entertainment Centre
18 July | Mt Isa Civic Centre
21 - 22 July | Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns
27 July | Mackay Entertainment Centre
29 July | Pilbeam Theatre, Rockhampton
1 August | Brolga Theatre, Maryborough
5 August | Ipswich Civic Centre
8 - 9 August | Gold Coast ArtsCentre
11 August | Empire Theatre, Toowoomba
15 August - 2 September | Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Brisbane
6 - 16 September | Adelaide Festival Centre
20 September | Barossa Convention Centre