Based on the blood-curdling works of Bram Stoker, Dracula’s Guest attempts to take you into the dark Victorian classic to reveal the power of conviction one can have with persuasion and pure evil.

To celebrate the 125-year anniversary of Dracula, an all new interpretation of Bram Stoker’s classic is born. Adapted, directed and performed by James Hyland, Dracula’s Guest takes you into the very heart of Victorian horror to reveal the very meaning of terror and the consequences of collective evil and personal spite.

The two characters within the play are polar opposites, they defend their personal beliefs throughout the story and are given a choice of equally horrible outcomes, which no one would want to choose. Renfield yearns for a life outside of his imprisonment in the castle, whilst Count gives him every reason why the outside world is a lost cause and one he doesn’t want any association with. As the story unfolds the events become clearer on why Dracula does what he does.

Upon entering the black box space, the actor Ashton Spear portraying Renfield, was present upon the stage shaking at what we can presume has already been prefaced of the horrors he has witnessed. Straight away I was on edge of my seat, wondering what was to come next. I felt as though a jump scare could occur at any moment … however, it did not.

James Hyland’s emotionless demeanor and presentation made it clear that he was portraying Dracula from the moment he walked onstage. Hyland has a voice that is clear and a presence that was notable, but he lacked a sense of power and authority which one would associate with the character. This left me disappointed, as I did not feel uneasy and filled with suspense, as I would have expected to.

It was apparent in the writing, that the book has been revised and broken down into a clear understanding of what was happening with each sentence being well considered and articulated. However I believe the pacing needs work, the play felt as though it dragged in this 55 minute show and felt unnecessarily drawn out.

I found that one of the best parts of Dracula’s Guest was the descriptions of the castle and the character’s view of the outside world. As the audience although we could not see these visually, we could clearly in-visage, which highlights the power of the writing in this production. This along with the character’s accounts of past events are the aspects of the production which worked best. There was a lack of movement onstage during these sections, however they remained gripping to listen to.

The chemistry between the two actors onstage is apparent and the contrasts are antagonistic. Throughout the performance we see the taunts of Dracula. We see how one can make the other appear they are mad and how doubt can creep in when persuaded that their views are an ‘invention’. Despite the actors giving it their all, I did not feel the emotions expected of the situations set by Dracula. Throughout the play I felt as though I should be feeling suspenseful fear but alas, I did not.

The play takes a drastic turn in the last 5 minutes, and one which I left remembering. However, I’m not sure that this was for the right reasons. Instead it sticks within my memory due to it being unpleasant and containing unnecessary gore. This is a testament that some things are better left to the audience’s imagination.

I do however feel this show has potential and am delighted to see a telling of a classic bought into modern society. With pace shifts, stronger presence and the power of silence – this show could bring a chilling tale to life but unfortunately it missed the mark this time around. The show needs a review of artistic choices to create a more refined adaptation. It feels as though there has been a lack of workshopping and direction, and requires elements of technique that would be more apt to making it a theatre piece, as currently it feels more akin to a writer’s project. However there are aspects to Dracula’s Guest which I enjoyed and I can see potential in this show.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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