[Victoria, BC] Exploring Dracula, The Blood is The Life’s Revisions & News for Next Year

29 Oct

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Dracula

Craigdarroch Castle
1050 Joan Crescent
Victoria, BC V8S 3L5

Ticket Reservations:
250-592-5323

Dates and times:
October 30th 7pm & 9pm
October 31st 8pm

Lord Dracula is back, and this time, the terror is twice as bloody, if not wickedly fun. Launch Pad and Giggling Iguana Productions revisits the legend of the vampire king in a show that’s said to be pumped up to an extra level of terror. Practically all of the classics from the Golden Age of Terror — Dorian Gray, Jekyll & Hyde, Poe and Faust — has been covered, and the news that The Wolfman will be appearing next will be highly anticipated. To round out the world, Frankenstein may be a massive undertaking to pull off. It can be done, if the management of Craigdarroch Castle allows it.

But for visitors pondering a visit to Victoria, BC for All Hallows Eve, they might want to consider purchasing tickets in advance to ensure this type of site-specific play will not be missed.

I saw this show last year and reviewed it to bring some local theatre culture to a horror news and entertainment website, 28 Days Later Analysis. When comparing what I can recollect from last year’s performance to this year’s, the show ran for at least 20mins longer and the terror arrived by developing the themes of life eternal, sacrifice and entropy even further. The script revisions and the extended scenes are hardly noticeable. Seeing this performance was like watching a director’s cut and the additions are all the more classic. All the points I said before still applies to this version — like in how I noted how the Gregorian style underpinnings cannot go unnoticed when observing this show up-close and personal. This time, a Baroque influence may have been added. That’s especially true for how Van Helsing (Dave Morris, who replaced Paul Terry from last year) appears to audiences.

But in order for me to really compare the two shows requires Launch Pad / Giggling Iguana Productions to have this show recorded for prosperity and a DVD product available to sell. That’s unlikely to happen since that is not what live theatre is about. It has to be seen on stage than delivered to tape.

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When thinking about both products based on my recall ability, the extra time added to this production was hardly noticeable. The improvements were finessed to showcase the talent of David Radford, Christina Patterson and Trevor Hinton. They play Dracula, Mina and Renfield respectively. In a tale that has Professor Abraham Van Helsing chasing “demons,” as he calls it, Jonathan Harker (Matthew Coulson) and the rest of the crew (spoken of but not seen, like the mention of Lucy Westerna and Quincey Morris) seem to be along for the ride. But that’s anything further from the truth.

The subplots about Lucy’s disappearance and Renfield’s Gollum-like obsession with “Life” are extended by a bit to delve into what made the literary version of the characters what they are. Having studied the novel at length at University, I’ve developed a greater appreciation for the Renfield character. To see this character played out for real helps reveal just how mad he truly was. At the start, he did not reveal his split personality just yet. He is a gentlemanly figure which Hinton nicely plays up. He maintains a certain decorum until “The Master” finally reveals himself to him. If someone stood outside, I’m sure his shrieks can be heard from the castle’s grounds.

When Craigdarroch Castle gets shrouded in fog, that atmosphere will only enhance the anticipation for seeing this show. Understandably, since this venue is a historic abode, not every theatrical technique involving special effects can be done indoors. At least this production made use of some great lighting techniques to sell the tomb scene and the confrontation. It gave this production the feel of a noir product. Now if only a smoke effect could be done to turn the stairs into a waterfall of midst whenever Dracula made an entry, the supernatural elements can only get enhanced!

It’s a shame that none of the show was performed outdoors. Given the right weather conditions, that would only add to the product. All though out last week, Victoria, BC was blanketed in fog and to visit the castle during that time would have made those performances fantastic. But unlike past productions that Launch Pad / Giggling Iguana did, this one is kept indoors for good reason. It’s to give audiences the sense of feeling contained, much like the vampire when he sleeps. Is that a Vlad thing?

4½ Stars out of 5

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