Ian Waller and his daughter enjoy an evening of innovative and thrilling theatre from a young cast and a literary classic
What with various vampires, multiple maniacs and squid soup, it had turned into quite an evening. The event was a rare dad and daughter evening out which started with sushi and ended with front row seats at the Bath Theatre Academy’s production of Dracula at the egg theatre.
Yen Sushi was my young teenage daughter’s idea and, as it turned out, an extremely good one. She’s far more sushied up than I am, so I was happy to follow her recommendations as the little plates glided past on the conveyor belt. The result was a wonderful selection of freshly prepared, wonderfully flavoursome food that started the evening off perfectly.
Dracula was my call. I’ve always loved the tale of Jonathan Harker’s trip to meet his mysterious new client, Count Vlad Dracula, the horrors that the undead monster brings to his family and friends, and the heroic chase to stop the bloodshed. And the signs for this production were good, after all, the egg theatre has never let me down through any of the very many productions my family and I have enjoyed there.
There’s a wonderful intimate atmosphere to the egg, with its main stage allowing the audience to close in on the action, so much so that you can almost feel part of the plot. This sensation with only increased with this production as even while the audience trailed in to find their seats, Tabby Landgridge as Lucy Westerman was already on stage, apparently asleep on a bench amid a wonderfully bare, but cleverly atmospheric set.
From the start this is clearly a clever, brave and and exciting production of a literary classic, maintaining the core of the plot but adding ingenious adaptations. The focus here is more closely directed around the relationship of Lucy and Mina Westerman (Lauren Maslen Stevens), and the two young actors are superb in their roles. Tabby Langridge in particular brings a mature and multi-layered performance to a very new-age Lucy, who is at the same time is engagingly innocent, while also desperate to learn more about the world, love and new emotions.
Away from the family home, the imminent arrival to Britain of Dracula is anticipated by Renfield, a patient in an hospital overseen by Will Wiltshire as Dr Seward. Toby Mitchell’s portrayal of the haunted Renfield is quite stunning – it’s impossible to look away from this energy and depth of this performance, even when the plot takes its occasional violent and challenging turns.
And the Prince of Darkness himself? Well here is the cleverest of twists – it’s a part played simultaneously by four actors, Chynna Kaur, Inca Bayley, Edan Saunders and Declan Tonkinson, and the result is hugely effective, bringing a unique depth to the character.
Indeed, throughout, the teenage cast is impressive, with many taking on multiple parts. However, despite the youth of the players, there is a real horror to parts of this production that fully warrant its 14+ age restriction. The language includes some very colourful and modern additions, there’s plenty of adult themes and, as you might expect from a vampire-themed production, there’s no shortage of blood and action.
The result is so impressive and a huge credit to all members of the Bath Theatre Academy. My daughter and I both loved our latest trip to the egg and we’re looking forward to returning again soon.
Dracula at the egg theatre runs until 26 January. To book tickets, click here.