Get your garlic, crucifixes and wooden stakes ready for Triad Stage’s production of ‘Dracula’, but you might also want to bring your thinking cap. The adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic story is elaborately executed and brilliantly visually constructed, but the casting gives the audience many a hoop to jump through.
It is obvious that the production crew heavily valued the aesthetic aspects of the performance, so it seems a strange choice to cast a show so heavily reliant on diversified personas with only six people, each playing a minimum of two roles. Perhaps versatility was a central theme in the show? The set design certainly supports this. There were no constructional set alterations throughout the length of the show, but the frequent introduction of props, multifaceted lighting design, and impressive multimedia projections allowed the intricate but unchanging installations to seamlessly transform one space into countless others.
It’s possible that the show was also designed to engage the audience’s intellect by giving them a brain puzzle to ponder as they tried to follow the twisty plot from Transylvania to London and eventually to the sea. One moment the audience would be anxiously awaiting the medical diagnosis of Miss Lucy by Van Helsing and Dr. Seward, and in the next, the audience would see the reemergence of “Lucy” as another character aiming to solve the mystery of Lucy’s sickness and fate alongside Van Helsing. Helsing will then appear as Dracula himself in a few scenes before shifting back to expose Dracula as his Van Helsing persona. Does your brain hurt yet? By any standard, that is a lot. To complicate matters a bit more, the timeline of the work frequently shifts between flashbacks of tragedies in Transylvania and present happenings in London- both of which tend to overlap each other in theatrical portrayal.
That being said, this could not have been a simple production to take on as a performer. Having to switch between multiple characters (most of the time involving a heavy switch in accent and sudden change in costume) within the same act or scene is quite the feat- one that the actors somehow accomplished without missing a beat. Just six people were able to tell the entirety of a classic tale and spare no detail.
Their artistic prowess and dexterity cannot be overlooked. The sheer volume of compositional transition may have made the plot challenging to follow as an audience member, but the ‘Dracula’ cast was certainly not lacking in raw talent. Actor, Dathan B. Williams, was able to play Van Helsing (the doctor hunting Dracula) and Dracula himself and not jumble the storylines. Maggie Thompson portrayed a woman bitten by a vampire who ultimately turns into one, a wife on the hunt for Dracula because he killed her husband, a Transylvanian innkeeper, and also a vampire in Dracula’s Transylvanian castle all while wittily clapping back at sexist comments about what a woman can and cannot do.
These performers put on quite the show- with more twists and turns than just those indicated in the storyline. Triad Stage’s ‘Dracula’ takes the audience for a wild ride through graveyards and castles and mental institutions alike. If you’re looking for an alternative to crosswords and Sudoku puzzles to keep your brain sharp, this show might just be the one for you.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment