By Mark A. Leon / Edited by Minta Pavliscsak
The Prince of Darkness rises from the crypt to haunt Charleston in the Charleston Stage dramatic production of “Dracula: King of Vampires” playing October 19 – November 6 at the Historic Dock Street Theatre.
Blending the power of persuasion, deep symbolism, the essence of good vs. evil, and a hint of well-positioned comic relief, “Dracula” dishes up a stew of spooky and potent Halloween entertainment.
The dark mystique of Transylvania and the backdrop of Historic 19th Century England come alive with exquisite costume designs, precision use of shadows and well performed British accents. This production takes you into the heart of the world of “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” leaving behind a trail of blood as we follow the mission of a madman.
The set designers use of cryptic furniture, the illusion of a levitating castle door, shadows and sound effects to create a haunting Transylvania castle add a dark foggy aura. They successfully transformed the stage to intimate settings in Transylvania and England.
The use of symbolism plays a critical role in “Dracula”. They are highlighted by a quintessential masquerade scene with a wolf, sheep and Bo Peep, Anarchy symbol atop the shipwrecked boat, office desk laden in faces of undead babies and poisonous spiders, crypt below the Abbey home dimly lit by deep purple and red hues. These carefully positioned props and colors schemes hypnotize the audience luring them deeper into the play.
The role of Count Dracula is played by resident actor Alex Garcia. His quest for eternal life and world domination drive him to disturbing acts. Yet, it is the dangerous emotional weapon of love that causes him to trip up making careless mistakes along his conquest.
Aside from his mischievous accent and devilish grin, Count Dracula provides us with a surprising element of humor. Within the many dark scenes, he brings a break in the drama with playful facial expressions and well-timed lines. This bit of comedic interruption was perhaps the most surprising element of the performance.
Madeline Glenn Thomas with her mesmerizing eyes, dimples and innocent charm played the role of Mina, the heroin, so beautifully. Her signs of strength and moments of uncompromising weakness showed her range so well.
Insanity is a mental condition that causes a deranged state of mind and a very important part of the plot line. Nathan Burke, as Renfield, digs deep within his acting range to take on this role. He was a shining star performing his role as the sailor exposed to the monster and transforming to a person unrecognizable to himself. It is truly a memorable piece of acting fueled by fear, madness and devotion and one that derives empathy from the audience.
Pen Chance as Dr. Quincy Seward consistently showcases his talents throughout the entire production, sharing the stage with each member of the ensemble cast. In every scene, he was comfortable being the focal point or the supporting player contributing a level of rationality in a world of insanity.
The story and characters build to a violent and powerful conclusion with magic, theatrics and cast members donning the aisles with black sheets, demonic staffs and lace.
The aura of the classic horror tale Dracula is re-created with passion and heart in the new Charleston Stage adaptation of “Dracula: King of Vampires” now playing at the Dock Street Theatre.