Dracula: The Bloody Truth Lichfield Review

Dracula: The Bloody Truth Lichfield Review

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Posted 2023-06-30 by Tony Collinsfollow

Fri 23 Jun 2023 - Sat 24 Jun 2023

It is hard to imagine that a play about Count Dracula, the Lord of Darkness himself, would end up in a song and dance routine! But, then this is theatre the #about ">Le Navet Bete way. The Exeter-based theatre company prides itself on innovative comedy, taking a classic tale such as Bram Stoker's late 19th-century creation and turning it on its head in a delightfully funny way. Such is their treatment of Dracula, the soulless vampire lord portrayed countless times on screen and in print.

Le Navet Bete, who have created Dracula: The Bloody Truth in association with Exeter Northcott Theatre , have conjured up a real comedy gem. It certainly delighted audiences at the Lichfield Garrick theatre in Staffordshire where it was staged three times over the course of June 23 and 24. The theatre company deserves plaudits just for being able to put such a play on, with a mere four, albeit immensely talented actors playing more than 40 characters - although I confess I did not count them.

Make fun of Dracula at your peril. Credit Mark Dawson Photography


Dracula: The Bloody Truth, directed by John Nicholson, who also co-wrote it, has all the ingredients of a top-notch farce as Professor Abraham Van Helsing seeks to tell the real story of his dealings with the Count with the help or, more accurately, hindrance of his three largely clueless actors. In reality, the actual cast perform the challenging task admirably as they switch from one character to another.

The outstanding Nick Bunt, as Van Helsing, seemingly has the best part of the deal, focusing solely on the role of the vampire slayer - Dracula's chief nemesis. The other three members of the cast have a lot more on their plate, particularly when taking on the guise of female characters, but they all perform their multi-roles superbly.

A cast of four miraculously produce more than 40 characters. Credit Mark Dawson Photography


The task of recreating the menacing Dracula falls to the excellent Simon Burbage, whose other guises include Dr Seward, who runs a mental asylum. The other superb performances also include that of Al Dunn, who appears not only as Jonathan Harker but also his fiancee's best friend Lucy, and, for good measure, asylum patient Renfield. And, completing the cast is Matt Freeman who is surprisingly alluring as Jonathan's fiancee, turned wife, Mina, together with a variety of other roles such as Lucy's suitor Arthur and Nurse Margaret.

Throughout Van Helsing's narration, everything that can go wrong seemingly does so. Actors miss their cue, lines are delivered out of sync, and props either don't work or fall apart. The story seamlessly, well almost seamlessly, follows Dracula on his journey from his native Transylvania to Whitby in Yorkshire via Gdansk in Poland and the cargo ship transporting him and his 50 earth-lined coffins to England.

Lucy is enticed by Dracula to escape through a window. Mark Dawson Photography


Once there, Lucy soon falls under the Count's spell as he seeks to make her into one of his vampire brides. At which point, Van Helsing finally enters his own story having previously saying he hates the theatre and actors. As in all good slapstick comedy there is no shortage of audience participation, starting when a linen sheet is thrown into the stalls, and later when Lucy's severed 'head' ends up the same way,

And then a member of the audience is press-ganged onto the stage when the set starts to completely collapse. As well as the previously mentioned locations, from Dracula's castle to the cargo ships, the rapidly changing set also has to convey Dr Seward's asylum and a particularly impressive Highgate Cemetery. And then, as in all good horror stories, the play ends on a song and dance number involving Dracula, Van Helsing, Jonathan and Nurse Margaret. Of course, it does!

Rating: 5 out of 5

The insect-eating asylum patient Renfield. Mark Dawson Photography


For more information about future shows at the Garrick, visit www.lichfieldgarrick.com

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%wnstaffordshire
!date 23/06/2023 -- 24/06/2023
220500 - 2023-06-22 15:38:00

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