The characters on stage may have been dead, but the King’s Theatre was alive as audience members laughed and jumped out of their seats. Directed by Eduard Lewis and adapted for the stage by Jenny King, Dracula captures all of the elements that have made Bram Stoker’s chilling tale a timeless classic. Expect wooden stakes. Expect garlic necklaces. And expect a spine-tingling night at the theatre. King’s adaptation of Stoker’s Dracula is the perfect way to spend a spooky autumn night in Edinburgh.
The special effects and staging are a huge asset to the talented cast, and truly sets the atmosphere of the entire theatre. Rows of columns frame the stage and seem to close in on the cast of characters as they are drawn into the horrors of the night. As Andrew Horton begins to go mad, the theatre seems to mirror Dracula’s emotional grip on him. And as columns and sets shift, a frightening question arises: what really lurks in the shadows?
Intermittent blackouts cut with bright strobe lights also amp up the shock value of King’s Dracula. These blackouts provide much-needed suspense to the play and offer breaks in the progression of the storyline. The images illuminated in each brief flash of light aren’t necessarily scary but are undoubtedly unsettling. Many of these scenes are overtly sexual, and I would definitely recommend leaving the kids at home on this one.
As a whole, the cast is also superb. Despite playing a traditional Dracula, cape and overdone accent included, Glen Fox is convincingly frightening. In a scene where Dracula breaks into Mina’s room as she sleeps, the Count is terrifying in a very real way. The clear sexual assault in this scene brings the production scarily close to home. Olivia Swann’s portrayal of Mina in this scene is also fantastic. It is hard to believe that this is Swann’s professional theatre debut, as she navigates the stage with great deft and grace. Award-winning actress Cheryl Campbell brings the cast together as Lady Renfield. Renfield’s lunacy ranges from funny to sinister, keeping the audience on its toes throughout the play.
Gale’s production is wildly seductive and relentlessly suspenseful. While King’s by-the-book interpretation is nothing new, the production certainly delivers a thrilling two hours. Looks like I’ll be locking my windows at night and hanging up the garlic flowers from now on.
Image: Capital Theatres