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The Fitzrovia Radio Hour's Dracula (Colchester)

This take on Bram Stoker's classic is some thing to get your fangs into on a dark and stormy night...

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
David Benson & Joanna Wake
© Robert Day

The past being something which rapidly morphs into a blend of solid history and vivid imagination, it's not surprising that production companies turn to the pre-war days of broadcasting in which to set a play. The Agatha Christie Theatre Company has done so very successfully.

Now it's the turn of the Fitzrovia Radio Hour with Dracula. We're members of the audience for a live drama broadcast, with a pianist to entertain our ears while we wait and a galaxy of pieces and bits which will provide the sound effects laid out before our eyes. We're even given a signal when to applaud.

The play in question is an adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula; rashly director Dan Starkey has engaged a Romanian emigré aristocrat Count Alucard (David Benson) to play the title role. The cast (wearing impeccable evening dress, of course – though Starkey's toupée tends to have a life of its own) assembles.

More than slightly vague Dame Joanna (Joanna Wake) is well aware of the studio audience. Then there's ingénue Fiona Sheeham, who will play Mina, setting her cap at Jon Edgley Bond's tall, dark and handsome Harker and giving the brush-off to pianist and bit-part player Tom Mallaburn.

For his part, Starkey gets a truncated Renfield and the vampire-hunter Van Helsing. Just to add to the confusion – and the cast's way with those sound-effects has to be seen to be fully appreciated – the actors' real names are also the names of the broadcasters.

It's a collaborative affair, written by Edgley Bond, Mallaburn (who is also the composer and arranger), Phil Mulryne and director Cal McCrystal. The designer is Lucy Bradridge. And through it all stalks Benson, all swirling cloak and accompanied by a positive fog of dry ice. It all makes for a fun evening.