The Blackfriars Guild takes the fight to the well knownclassic Dracula and comes away victorious. Directed by John Athas and working from the Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston adaption of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (the prior being the first person to ever consider putting Dracula in evening cloths with the famous cape), we are treated to what I consider to be one of the best performances coming from this young acting troop.
The story finds us in London during the 1920’s; with the one piece stage taking place in Dr. Seward’s Sanatorium for the Insane. Dr. Seward’s daughter Lucy has taken ill of late, and he has required the assistance of his old friend Dr. Van Helsing to cure her. Lucy’s blood is being drained at a frequent rate, a symptom that Dr. Van Helsing attributes to vampirism. All of this leads to the suspicion of the family friend Count Dracula.
The set was simple to maneuver and functioned quite well (a backstage tour allowed me to finally see what I like to call Mr. Athas’ “balcony window set” from the other end), with enough open space to allow for traveling bats and quick escapes.
I will say that some of the actors really impressed me. Jack Weyrens played a wonderful Renfield, Ian Maclin pulled off a suave Van Helsing, and my good friend Matt Wagner (who also did these poster designs) stole the show as the titular Count Dracula.
The usual problem I have with Mr. Athas’ choice of scripts stems from his female characters. Of the five total performances that I have seen, not one female character stood out. This is very apparent in Dracula, for each female character is either used as a slave or is part of one of the most blatant rape metaphors this side of Rosemary’s Baby. It is not that the female actors can’t act; they just are not given enough content.
I usually do enjoy the Blackfriars and their craft. This time was no exception.