Six-packs and screaming mobs of teenagers have either obstructed or enhanced gothic horror's pin-up boy of late. The Mark Bruce Company flies in the face of current vampire love by returning to Bram Stoker's text and putting their own definitive stamp on the tale.
This is an adaptation that is both remarkably faithful yet refreshingly original. All the major plot points are there with boxes being ticked along the way, yet this is not to say the production is prescriptive. Far from it. Just as you feel you are getting the measure of Bruce's choreography, he throws in a music hall curve ball or dancing vampire maids. Like the Count himself, each stage of the story gives you a thirst for more and they deliver in impressive style.
Alongside Bruce and his seamlessly elegant, athletic and super-charged cast, the other triumph of the evening is the design. Dorothee Brodruck, Phil Eddolls and Guy Hoare have created a gothic powerhouse with their respective costume, set and lighting design roles, combining all their theatrical expertise to create a dark, shadowy world where characters can appear from nowhere, disappear in the mist and fill the stage.
Dracula succeeds on every level. A testament to great adaptation, economical storytelling, visually stunning and a truly gripping evening of theatre.