Words || Erin Christie
“I mean, I was attracted to him, but then again, I’ve always been into vampires,” says my friend on our drive home from Dramac’s production of Dracula. It’s been a fun, fearful and freaky Friday night, and between two English majors there’s a helluva lot to unpack.
Dracula is set in Victorian England with a brief foray over to Transylvania. Jonathan Harker, played by James Miller-Argue, is a young solicitor, conducting business on behalf of his employer. They have acquired a house in London for the mysterious Count Dracula, played by Daniel Bingham. His thick Eastern European accent might come as a slight shock at first, but his consistency throughout the play shows amazing dedication to the character. Harker becomes Dracula’s prisoner after committing the forbidden act of leaving his room in the night. Dracula remains connected to Harker’s circle of friends as he makes his entry into London, despite leaving Harker behind. Harker’s return to England is followed by the death of his fiancee’s best friend, Lucy, under mysterious circumstances of acute blood loss. By then, the characters have realised that this strange series of events are all connected to Dracula and his super-human abilities.
Dramac’s casting was unreal – all the characters were believable within their roles. I was annoyed by the outdated opinions on gender regularly expressed by Harker and his counterparts, Dr. Van Helsing and Dr. Seward, played respectively by Peter David Allison and Thomas Southwell, which goes to show their commitment to not only the characters, but the time period they were portraying. This was nicely subverted by Dracula himself in a standout monologue about men fearing women’s desire. I loved this #yeahthegirls moment within a Victorian play, and it also made ol’ Drac look pretty damn sexy. However, my favourite performances were Sam Hutchinson’s Renfield, who was both terrifying and likeable, and Georgia Drinan’s Mina, who I think every woman in the world could relate to. She is constantly torn between being terrified of Dracula, and not wanting to be a bother to her husband and friends. She is left out of plans and conversations, and told by Van Helsing that her role is to be ‘our star, our hope.’ It turns out her role is actually to be a fucking badass, but you should definitely go find that out for yourself. Her sexuality is inadvertently suppressed by the men, as is that of Lucy, portrayed by Lakia Lyons. Expressions of sexual desire are linked to her ultimate demise, driving me to consider our own society, and how much has actually really changed.
Other aspects I liked were the Nosferatu, eight people making up a combination of ensemble characters, statues, and stage crew. Their use of their bodies and facial expressions to portray a sense of intimidating darkness was eerie, especially as they ushered me in after intermission with their spindly arms and flowy black dresses. The use of sound was also very clever, as the play is told mostly through flashbacks, which begin with voice recordings of diary entries being read aloud. This set the scene really well each time.
I’m big on DRAMAC now. This is not only my first interaction with Dracula, but also my first interaction with DRAMAC, despite the fact that they are always advertising productions. I love theatre, and I’m always looking for stuff to do on the weekends that fits within my measly, broke, uni-student budget. Student tickets are just $15, and Adults $20. They do eight shows a year, and this year will be doing their first open spot, a play called The God of Carnage, which sounds intense a.f. Supporting the arts is so goddamn easy, and I highly recommend you get in on it ASAP.
Amid our jokes about sparkly skin and lion and lamb metaphors, my fellow English major and I agreed it was really great to see the origins of all these stories. I’m not quite sure how someone as terrifying, powerful, and legendary as Dracula became watered down into brooding teenagers looking to get married as soon as legally allowed, but I much prefer the original story, told in the Lighthouse theatre by fellow students, following their acting aspirations and doing an awesome job.
Dracula continues its run this week from Wednesday 21st to Saturday 24th.