Wednesday, October 17, 2012

[Victoria, BC] Hungry like a Bat with Dracula: The Blood is the Life: A Theatrical Review

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Adapted and directed by David Radford and Christina Patterson.

Costumes by Martha Burd.

Cast: Paul Terry, Michael Shewchuk, Matthew Coulson, David Radford, Christina Patterson, Trevor Hinton, and Jared Gowen.

To visit a lonely reminder of a bygone age, Craigdarroch Castle, in Victoria, BC is eerily inspiring. Its far-reaching gothic-style towers want to touch the moon, and its inspirational Baronial architecture makes this venue the ideal location for many of Giggling Iguana’s past and present theatrical productions. This year, they are working together with Launch Pad to bring Dracula: The Blood is the Life back to the Victorian Age!

This site-specific theatrical show proves that even a complex novel like Bram Stoker’s Dracula can be distilled down to its very essence. To see it performed without missing the most important themes from this Irish novelist’s work in under an hour is very impressive.

Director and writers David Radford and Christina Patterson crafted a well-focused story. When observing the show up-close and personal, the Gregorian style underpinnings cannot go unnoticed. The mysterious Dracula (David Radford) is more monk-like in his garb and movement. He speaks with a strong Slavic flair that is eerily familiar. The way he drifts about the castle is a superb touch. Without giving away certain production tricks, supposedly this castle does have secret passages.

Even more fun is in hearing how the chamber music builds the ambiance. Renfield’s (Trevor Hinton) voice loudly resonates throughout the building as the audiences enter the venue. That can be jarring for some, but for others, the mood is certainly set.

Some theatregoers may not know what will happen next, but very soon, Dr. John Seward (Michael Shewchuk) welcomes the visitors to the asylum and motions all up to the fourth floor to ‘begin’ the tour. When the folks are settled, he introduces Professor Abraham Van Helsing (Paul Terry). Together, they start reflecting upon recent events. They talk about how Jonathan Harker (Matthew Coulson) and Mina Murray/Harker (Christina Patterson) became unhinged due to recent events.

According to Seward, they are “consumed in entropy.” His dialogue with Van Helsing suggests they are institutionalized and this professor proposes an exorcism. But before that can take place, the story flashbacks to recount how Dracula managed to arrive in Victorian London.


As the rest of the play continues in familiar territory—at least for those who know the novel—the gravitas never changes. Like the looming entropy that’s suggested by the dialogue in the opening act, the build-up always focuses in on one key theme: Life. Just what does it mean to a nocturnal beast like Dracula? And what about his most faithful servant Renfield? One of the characters suggests that it’s like poison. It penetrates the very blood, if not soul, of the person. Even Renfield’s condition is described as a “life-eating mania.”

The focus this play stays on is very sharp. Without missing a beat, the themes of life and love are explored much more than the lust Dracula has for Ms. Harker. Radford does a great job at being menacing and he has the presence to command the stage, but the true scares comes in getting to know Steward’s and Renfield’s characters in-depth. The doctor is the frayed narrator and the madman is one of the catalysts. To see the story of Dracula from their perspective is the best treat of all for this Halloween theatre season.

9 out of 10.

Showtimes:

-Oct 17 and 18 at 8pm,
-Oct 19 and 20 at 7pm and 9pm
-Oct 24 and 25 at 8pm
-Oct 26 and 27 at 7pm and 9pm
-Oct 28, 30 and 31 at 8pm

To learn more about 'The Castle' or book a ticket, please visit here:

The Castle Website

Or, check out more stills at:

Giggling Iguana's webpage.

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