Theatre Royal, Glasgow
Dracula author Bram Stoker was a regular visitor to Cruden Bay in Aberdeenshire in the late 19thcentury and it was here he began writing his iconic horror novel, inspired by the brooding silhouette of the nearby clifftop Slains Castle. The National Theatre of Scotland’s new production of the oft-told tale locates most of its action in the area, doubles down on that geographical connection with a script heavily peppered with the local Doric dialect and invests in its themes of fluid gender roles by using a female and non-binary cast.
Dracula: Mina’s Reckoning, written by Morna Pearson and directed by Sally Cookson, places the character of Mina Murray at the centre of the action. As played by Danielle Jam, she is the bold, concerned heroine, with her friend Lucy Westenra as her game sidekick. Mina’s intended, Jonathan Harker, is essentially an hors d’oeuvre for the commanding, charismatic Count Dracula, played by a silken Liz Kettle, while the female inmates of the Aberdeen Asylum for Women provide a Greek chorus of curiosity.
The handsome gothic set is a warren of platforms and staircases, which the vampiric characters negotiate with a graceful yet creepy angularity. The atmospheric sound and lighting design is equally impressive, seamlessly furnishing a handful of effective horror moments. But there is humour too, provided by Van Helsing – portrayed in this production as a bumptious Boer – and Lucy’s suitor Dr Thomas Seward, whose condescending misogynist views are held up to the light for ridicule, while the ambiguous Dracula colonises the shadows.
Touring until 28 October.