The House Of Dracula | By Martin Downing

31st October – 4th November 2017

SYNOPSIS: This Comedy Horror finds the Baron, Baroness and their repulsive retainers, Igor and Frau Lurker, going to stay at a macabre Transylvania fortress. Excitement turns to terror when they are greeted by more than a few of their mortal (and immortal) enemies. They are to take part in an unholy survival test involving ghouls, ghosts and the fiendish Dr. Jekyll. The Frankensteins flee from cellar to attic, desperate to escape a fate worse than death!

“A Monster Hit.” – Yorkshire Evening Post.

Directed by Iain Holding-Sutton

REVIEWS

Well, it is Halloween and All Saints Eve this week so what better way to spend a night in the Theatre than in the presence of Dracula, Baron Frankenstein, Ygor and Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde!

I love pastiche theatre and madcap comedy and this is a perfect example of both.  The introduction of the characters gave us an exciting insight into the evening ahead. Terry Cramphorn as Baron Victor von Frankenstein had great stature as the Victorian gentleman and mad scientist, sadly his diction at times needed greater attention as several lines which needed a quick-fire delivery were lost in some mumbling and unclear dialogue. Playing opposite him, Hannah Burton as his wife, the Baroness Elizabeth von Frankenstein, had suitable haughtiness as well some great comic moments and they really worked well together.

Their staff played by Christine Davidson as Frau Lurker channelled Helga of “Allo, Allo” into her outrageous Hitler loving character and complete with whip and saucy underwear making her force to reckon with. I loved it! She was paired with Martin Robinson as Ygor, the hunchback who was equally pathetic and great fun all at the same time.

Dean Hempstead as Count Dracula had all the menace and deliciously craziness required for the part while Carrie Ann Shirtcliffe was serene and spooky as Countess Ilona Dracula.  There were also some great cameos from Caroline Dunsmuir as the east end Bride of Dracula and Callum Prior as Groat and Ka-Seet.

There was some brilliant delivery of  ‘ham’ acting from several characters throughout the play, which just added to the overall performance of the piece and gave so many extra laughs. This is very clever directorial input by Iain Holding-Sutton as it could just be interpreted as just poor acting but it was incredibly clever.

Leanne Young as Isabel, who was the most normal of the characters tonight, was a true moaning bitch but I loved her characterisation, I was honestly not sure of her place in the piece but Leanne gave it everything and delivered a great interpretation of the character.

However, I had two favourites this evening, the first being Ben Fraser as Henry Talbot, the Wolfman, who had some lovely ‘Shaggy’ from Scooby Doo moments in his dialogue – just divine! – and I loved all the little dog related innuendos and characterisations in his performance.

The second and a true star of the night for me, was Dave Hawkes as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde who switched between the two characters and accents superbly. His timing, stage presence and characterisation were simply brilliant.

This was a fun and enjoyable evening which flew along with lots of laughs and a good dose of spook-tacular silliness. See it while the moon is full!!!

Nikki Mundell Poole, Theatre Life

NODA REVIEW: Reviewed at The Old Court Theatre, Chelmsford on Friday 3rd November 2017

This was my first visit to this intimate theatre, home to a Society that has gained a reputation for performing award winning productions.

A foyer dressed with cobwebs and looking suitably spooky set the scene perfectly for the production we had come to see.  But first there was a warm welcome and pre-show drinks in the small but perfectly formed bar on the first floor.  This gave us an opportunity to chat with Chairman John Mabey who gave us an insight into this rather unique building which the Society is fortunate enough to own.

On entering the auditorium the audience was greeted with an open stage displaying a terrific set, executed in great detail to represent a macabre looking fortress in Transylvania.  A small flight of stairs at the back of the set led, we are told, to the bedrooms and there were suitable drapes, strategically placed lamps and ‘cobwebs’ aplenty.  A large and very hairy spider was suspended from the ceiling ready to be slowly lowered onto the unsuspecting guests.  The whole thing was so atmospheric.  Just right for Halloween!

One by one the characters arrived on set, all having received an invite to come and stay, but not really sure why.  I must say here that all the characters were very well portrayed, no weak links in this production.

Terry Cramphorn and Hannah Burton as Baron Victor and Baroness Elizabeth von Frankenstein are first to arrive and look suitably surprised to find no-one to greet them.  They have brought with them their old retainers, Ygor (Martin Robinson) and Frau Lurker (Christine Davidson) both of whom played their roles with great conviction.

There were other strong performances from Dean Hempstead as Count Dracula and Carrie Ann Shirtcliffe as the Countess. Leanne Young gave a lovely performance as Isabel Channing and needn’t have worried about her American accent.  It sounded just fine to me!  I felt that Ben Fraser as werewolf Henry Talbot could have slowed down a little during his longer stretches of dialogue.  Apart from that, very good.

Callum Prior was very animated and suitably scary as Ka-Seet and Caroline Dunsmuir really seemed to relish her role as Ethel, Bride of Dracula.

There were so many good performances in this production but in my opinion there is one actor who deserves a special mention, and that is Dave Hawkes.  His portrayal of The Doctor can only be described as superb.  The switching between Jekyll and Hyde, together with the other demands of this energetic role were a joy to watch and the audience did not hold back in showing their appreciation which was very well deserved.

The costumes, many of which were hired in from The Costume Store were very authentic and the production was complimented by excellent sound effects, lighting and incidental music courtesy of Roger Mannion (lighting) and Ian Ransom (sound).  Well done both.

Under the direction of Iain Holding-Sutton, this extremely prolific society produced yet another show to be proud of.

Decia Ranger

NODA East, District 7

on behalf of Christine Davidson – District 8

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