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Category Archives: Pleasance Theatre

Dracula

draculaDracula is one of those brilliant stories that just never gets old. Its universal themes seem to always thrive in the present, presenting new insight into humanity. And different wonderful people just keep imagining brilliant new ways to bring this story to life. The one I saw tonight is the work of Action to the Word, and they certainly made an impression.

Perhaps it was just Zoe Koperski’s steampunk design that made this such a memorable production. Or maybe it was the in-your-face indie rock the whole cast blasted out into the auditorium. Either way, it was an aggressive and courageous take on Bram Stoker’s gothic horror novel, and I loved it.

Despite a few prop hiccups (and did I possibly detect a line drop?), the performers were genuinely brilliant. Jonno Davies‘ Count Dracula struck just the right balance between inciting a come hither and a piss off, while Henry Bauckham’s Jonathan Harker was at once noble and vulnerable. But it was the women who genuinely shone. Olivia Bromley, Rachel Bright and Claire Petzal played Mina Murray, Lucy Westenra and Jack (here Johanna) Seward respectively and all three deserved the ovation one enthusiastic member of the audience in front of me tried to give them for their remarkable performances.

However highly polished and professional these performers were, there was one thing they couldn’t compensate for, and that was a lack of focus on character and plot. In the effort to create a great spectacle (and a great spectacle it was), Alexandra Spencer-Jones’ adaptation didn’t allow enough depth for the characters to be fully engaged, and at the end no matter how much I enjoyed the spectacle, I certainly didn’t feel I’d encountered a story.

And as a rendition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula? Well, you would do well to have another read before you go to ensure you have the plot clear. I was stretching my memory once or twice trying to remember how the plot went, and I’m a fan.

Nonetheless, this really is a great show, even if just for the sake of enjoying the cast’s amazing music and the brilliant steampunk design, and it deserves a great deal of attention in Edinburgh.

 
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Posted by on Thursday, 24 July 2014 in British Theatre, Pleasance Theatre, Theatre

 

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Potted Sherlock

potted sherlockSince Shakespeare’s Compleat Works were abridged by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, similar treatment has been given to a range of original sources, with mixed results. Dan Clarkson and Jeff Turner have apparently been pottering about with Harry Potter in this antipode while I’ve been in the other one, and have now turned their attention to one of my favourite series, Sherlock Holmes.

When it comes to the still-novel-ish notion of condensing a bunch of great works into an hour’s romp, character is not king. If you wanted to engage with Conan-Doyle’s characters at all, you’d be sorely disappointed as this is really all about Dan and Jeff (and the girl who doesn’t seem to be credited anywhere). Similarly if you wanted to see any of the stories, you’d leave just as ignorant (they speak of them but don’t really get around to showing them). But for a little romp, it’ll do just nicely. These three brilliant performers maintain a giddy energy, keeping the laughs rolling both within the script and without it.

I think the concept’s days are numbered. Really, nothing quite measures up to the genius of the Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged), and ultimately these are forumlaic productions. How many times can we really take a series or theme and abridge them into a farce before it becomes de rigeur? Well, I guess Hollywood, Broadway and the West End have been doing little more than that for the last couple of decades, but it hardly makes for interesting theatre after it’s been done a few times.

Nonetheless, for the time being, this is a great formula and the raconteurs can probably squeeze a few more good ones out before the Webberesque machine drains it of life and starts selling tickets for over £100. See these guys before they transfer!

 

 
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Posted by on Friday, 18 July 2014 in British Theatre, Pleasance Theatre, Theatre

 

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