Bowjangles: Dracula in Space

If you think you’ve seen it all, you haven’t. Not until you’ve seen Dracula in space performed by a string quartet. Bear with me, it will all make (non)sense in a minute. But be warned: the show contains scenes of graphic violins – and slapstick comedy.

The performance is energetic, bubbly and infectious

Bowjangles are the punk rockers of classical music, anarchists who break genre barriers with each bow stroke. The story begins by the quartet blasting themselves into space to find appreciation as planet Earth just isn’t ready for their artistry. The first violin, Mitch McGugan, is the captain of the ship because he has watched most Star Trek. Oliver Izod plays the second violin, constantly complaining about it, so his natural position on the ship is the second in command. He is also the making the journey to Stringsilvania to meet Dracula. Ezme Gaze is the cellist, mechanic and the vampire slayer of the crew giving Buffy a run for her money. Bertie Anderson Haggart’s role is to be the disposable member of the crew, so she can double as the evil promoter Dr Angela Cula, ie Dracula, if you didn’t connect the dots.

In this delightful rendition of the iconic vampire story, Dracula is a femme fatale producer, who wants to lure Bowjangles into her management by promising them lucrative corporate gigs and making them international superstars. The irony of bloodsuckers around performing artists is not lost on the audience. The talented quartet is able maintain a complicated choreography, as well as to sing and play instruments at the same time. That is some serious multitasking. They also seem to invent endless ways to use their instruments as props. Their sound mixes pop tunes and ethnic notes to classical music making it seem fresh and modern.

With impressive singing and dancing to complement their string instrumental skills, this really is a well-rounded hour of entertainment. Luckily, the group as a whole is good enough to keep the performance running smoothly. They are obviously having fun and enjoying performing, even bursting into unintentional laughter occasionally. In any other hands this could have been a right mess, but Bojangles manage to keep the package together.

The Finnish metal band Apocalyptica pawed the way for the bow instrument / rock genre, making strings sexy with their famous renditions of Metallica songs. Bowjangels follow their lead making a musical comedy their new frontier. The performance is energetic, bubbly and infectious. Their comedy style is very physical and slapstick, which forms a nice contrast to the conformist classical music. The script is funny, although it has too many horror and sci-fi related puns just for the sake of it.

At the meta level, this is a story of artistic integrity and believing in yourself in the crazy whirlwind of performing arts, with a bit of feminist empowerment thrown in. All this is cleverly wrapped into the vampire mythos of power, lust and desire making a refreshing interpretation of the theme. You don’t have to be a classical music fan or a horror film fan to enjoy the show, although both help. To stoop myself to their level, I’ll just call the show fangtastic.

Visit Show Website

Reviews by Johanna Makelainen

C ARTS | C venues | C digital

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★★★★
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Since you’re here…

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The Blurb

Forget everything you think you know about string quartets, Bowjangles are an irreverent, anarchic group of genre-spanners, bringing music, theatre and comedy together in a way you've never seen before. Now, the award-winning foursome are blasting into outer space to meet a mysterious benefactor whose proposition seems a little too good to be true... 'Completely original... the music would be entertaining enough without all the other incredible action and comedy going on' ***** (BroadwayBaby.com). 'Full of zest, action and charisma... unfailingly entertaining' **** (Chortle.co.uk). Warning: Contains scenes of graphic violins.

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