Dance Review: Dracula

 

Chor. Mark Bruce, Tramway, 30th October – 1st November

It may be a simple coincidence that  the Mark Bruce Company’s touring dance performance of Dracula ran in Glasgow’s Tramway on the same weekend as Halloween, but Phil Eddoll’s hauntingly gothic, interchanging set creates the perfect atmosphere for a vampire tale.

Dance adaptation is never easy. There is a clash between original text material and artistic freedom of choreography which doesn’t always succeed. Yet, Jonathan Goddard is painstakingly creepy in the tortured title role and Dracula correlates beautifully with Bram Stoker’s 1897 text. The amusing employment of the dove sending letters back and forth between Mina and Jonathan is but one example of the way in which the construction of the Victorian novel is ingeniously accommodated.

Beginning with perhaps the novel’s most horrifying scene – in which Dracula exploits the desperation of a pleading mother who begs for the safety of her captured baby before feeding her to his pack of hungry, panting wolves – the bleak horror which dominates the tone of the narrative is promptly established. There are, however, moments of light, entertaining release. One notable addition to the intricacy of the show is the inclusion of wind-up-mice which scuttle across the stage pestering characters in the second act.

Dance is the main component here however, and the varying forms of movement make the performance all the more engaging. As Jonathan is welcomed into Transylvania an authentic folk dance is performed which, with its buoyant melody and inclusive community ambience, acts as a brilliantly chilling contrast to the ominous darkness which immediately follows as Jonathan points afar to the silhouette of Dracula’s castle – to which he must now venture.

Dracula succeeds in its evident commitment to retaining the notorious horror of the famous tale. Yet, children were members of the Glasgow audience and seemed as equally engrossed as their adult companions. Beautiful, strange and memorizing; if you have the opportunity to see this gothic performance elsewhere during the ongoing UK tour: a ticket is to kill for.

 

This article originally appeared in Qmunicate Magazine

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