Vampires never seem to go out of fashion. From Twilight’s tween idol sparkle to Let The Right One In’s sordid and dangerous world, this is one genre which is a constant pop culture mainstay. In their new musical-come-play-come-gig-come-gorefest, young company Action to the Word pull out all the stops to dazzle us with their new adaptation of Dracula. Unfortunately, they miss the mark at several turns due to the overbearing amount of stimuli thrown at the audience throughout the production.
The action feels like it’s being dragged in a number of different directions.
The production takes the story of Dracula and intersperses the ideas of the original narrative with modern language. The ensemble cast switches fluidly between acting, dancing and playing instruments, creating a multi-sensory soundscape. It’s impressive at times, but often feels like it has little bearing on the narrative. The use of modern music in the piece is an interesting way of bringing the production up-to-date and the cast give great musical performances all round. However, the song choices don’t quite gel with the show--the lo-fi versions of Radiohead and Mumford & Songs songs feel like awkward additions to the proceedings.
It’s undeniable that these performers are incredibly talented singers, actors and musicians. But, they struggle to pour all of these talents into a hour and twenty minute show. The action feels like it’s being dragged in a number of different directions. The physical and vocal performances given by the cast members are solid, especially by the actors playing Jonathan and Mina Harker, the young lovers caught up in the twisted delights and whims of Count Dracula.
What gets lost in the melee of the performance, however, is any real character development. While the premise and the relationships between the protagonists are clear, there aren’t enough moments for characterisation to develop. Ultimately, you don’t care much about the characters. Any emotional impact the piece could have is unfortunately missed due to the loss of connection with the audience. While a visual and aural feast, the lack of feeling and heart in this show leaves you feeling like you’ve missed the point entirely.