Thursday 14 February 2019

Dracula - Review

The London Library, London


Adapted by Kate Kerrow
Directed by Helen Tennison

Sophie Greenham and Bart Lambert

It may well have been a bloody good idea to stage Dracula in the London Library, amidst the very books and shelves that more than likely inspired Bram Stoker as he composed his Gothic horror classic. But much like the blood that the infamous Count sucked from his victims, so has Creation Theatre’s take on the tale drained nearly every drop of passion from Stoker’s beautifully penned original.

Helen Tennison’s  production assumes an audience familiarity with Stoker’s tale and characters and notwithstanding an overly detailed synopsis included in the pricey (£4) programme, it is left to the play’s two actors, Sophie Greenham and Bart Lambert to assume a variety of roles and costumes as they attempt a curiously retrospective interpretation of the story. Unfortunately, their numerous characters are barely introduced, let alone (pun alert) fleshed out, and whilst the play’s setting within the Library’s grand Reading Room is unquestionably magnificent, the show itself proves a tedious and mediocre melodrama. 

No blood can obviously be splashed upon the hallowed walls of the St James’s Square building and so the special effects, such as they are, are conveyed by way of video projections onto the room’s curtains and pillars. The videos however have an insipidly low luminescence. This, combined with a directorial blandness that ignores for example the (very different) geniuses of a Werner Herzog or John Landis, means that these mini movies fail to frighten. Hell, even a spot of Hammer Films’ kitsch would not have gone amiss in a bid to give the evening even the faintest hint of a pulse. All the while Greenham and Lambert’s performances waver between deadly earnest and parody in a contrast that just doesn't work.

This website has long argued that good horror demands the suspension of the audience’s disbelief, ideally from a great height. Dracula at the London Library, albeit well intentioned, makes for anaemic theatre.

Runs until 1st March
Photo credit: Tristram Kenton

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