Tag Archives: Bronzehead

Review: Dracula, Bronzehead Theatre

6 Nov
“Welcome to my house. Come freely. Go safely. And leave some of the happiness you bring.”
Dracula for me lives in dimly forgotten Year 7 English lessons and trips to Whitby, claiming to know more of the history and story than you care to admit. “Oh of course, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Transylvania. Scary castle. Sucking blood”… So I enter Bronzehead Theatre’s production with no real reverence for the text and no real knowledge of the story.
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Ruth Jamieson and Anna Rose James in Dracula. Photo by Michael J Oakes.

This in part, becomes a double edged sword. Tom Straszewski’s adaptation flits between real and imagined worlds and multiple characters so fast that as someone unbitten by the Dracula bug, I sometimes struggle to keep up. However, as a piece of theatre, Straszewski’s Dracula is undoubtedly skilled and imaginative. A thrilling atmosphere is created from the start, when the audience is ushered through the darkened building of 41 Monkgate by Ruth Jamieson’s character; from our own day and age and with a penchant for exploring old and mysterious buildings. Up in the John Cooper Studio itself, she is joined by the enigmatic Anna Rose James, the apparent inheritress of this building who tempts Jamieson into reenacting the Dracula tale aided by dusty letters and documents. The space itself is adeptly transformed by Director/Producer team Straszweski and Sandrine Enryd Carlsson to give the feeling of an eerie, decrepit building, so that we ourselves feel like the trespassers. The use of white scaffolding sheeting is especially creative as not only can it transform into props but it is used to create some very effective shadows and silhouettes, which complement the further inspired use of lighting, including open flame.
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Anna Rose James in Dracula. Photo by Michael J Oakes.

Light and shade is also seen in the lead performances. Our evening is in capable hands with Jamieson and James, and the two actors are eminently watchable. James is particularly skilled in effortlessly transforming into different characters and keeping the audience enraptured as she flits from each. Although billed as a two-hander, we are tempted throughout with an inevitable appearance of Dracula (James Swanton) through the aforementioned shadows and the surround sound provocation of his voice. When he finally arrives, he signals the dramatic denouement in which poor sight-lines unfortunately shield the undoubted blood from some of us. But no matter, we still leave the building slightly shaken and with a greater appreciation for this tale, good story-telling, and seriously good theatre.

 

Dracula was performed in 41 Monkgate Theatre, York w/c 30th October. Hopefully it will be revived (geddit) once again…