Friday, 31 October 2008

REVIEW: Dracula

Vampire musicals have something of a curse on them: namely that they tend to do the sorts of things that vampires would do if they existed: bite and suck. While there is one shining example hovering above the rest, Alex Loveless’s new adaptation of Bram Stoker’s defining novel isn’t it. What Loveless, Loveless (Liz, extra lyrics), & Loveless (Chris, director) give us instead is a tick-box list of how not to handle vampires in yet another version of Dracula.

See, a good vampire story is sexy. The whole lure of the forbidden and abandonment of morality in the face of a challenge to Good Christian Living stems from Stoker and it’s not here: Leigh Jones has presence as the legendary Count, but sexy? Nope. The female cast are so buttoned up that the Transylvanian may as well go back to planet Transsexual if he wants a chance of getting any. As much as Ann Rice’s prose may leave something to be desired and Elton John’s score was lacking, the duo delivered sexiness in abundance in Lestat.

Alternatively, a good vampire story is scary. The old Bela Lugosi films have lost much of their scare factor after decades of video nasties, but seventy-five years ago they were terrifying. The only scary thing about this musical was coming back for the second act.

On the other hand, you can go for spectacle: while Frank Wildhorn’s Dracula (which shares numerous book quotes with this one) also received a critical drubbing for its bore-factor it featured a top notch cast and Des McAnuff’s flair for the visual.

The LovelessX3 show sex, no scare, and no budget. It also has no point (the scenes with Renfield go nowhere and amount to nothing,) no memorable songs, no choreography, and no wit. To that extent it does have the last trait of the Vampire: sin. To bore the audience to sleep (or an interval departure) is the greatest sin a creator can commit, and the night I went there was programme checking, nodding off, and interval departures in abundance.

In short, the [title of show] team say it best: DIE VAMPIRE, DIE!

Where: White Bear Theatre
When: Until 23 Nov., Tu-Sa @ 19:30, Su @ 17:00
How Much: £12 unreserved
Concessions: £10
RZ Unofficial “Worth Paying”: £0. Stay home and take a nap or rent any of Hollywood’s better efforts. Or you could listen to....
RZ Other Notes: The greatest vampire musical of all time? Tanz der Vampire. Not the version Michael Crawford stunk up on Broadway but the original Austro-German edition which is scary, witty, sexy, and stunning.

No comments: