"Dracula bought to vivid life"
by Ben Macnair for remotegoat on 20/09/15

Lichfield Garrick – September 18th 2015

The Studio at the Garrick was turned into an intimate space, full of black magic and vampiric paraphernalia, skulls, maps and screens, causing an unsettling feel before the two actors had even appeared, when the critically acclaimed Don’t Go into the Cellar bought their show, Dracula’s Ghost to Lichfield.

The creation of leading actor Jonathan Goodwin, Dracula’s Ghost is a fictionalised look at Bram Stoker’s most famous character, famously never copyrighted, which leads to a number of court cases, which is where the play starts.

Florence Stoker is looking after her late husband’s affairs, presided over by the ghoulish, but ever loyal Mr Leech. The audience is given some information as to Leech’s true nature, he startles Mrs Stoker, because she does not see his reflection in a mirror, but even his name his two connotations. A blood-sucker in both metaphorical and literal senses. So, we learn that Van Helsing didn’t really kill Dracula. Dracula was a real man, known to Stoker. He lived, but only as vampires can, ageless, deathless, but always followed by pathos and sadness, for as the world and their acquaintances age, they cannot.

As the story line develops, in linear and time travelling fashion, we learn much about the Count, from his dealing with characters, both real and fictional, from Jack the Ripper to Dorien Gray, to more modern characters,even mentioning, in comedic asides the recent upsurge in Vampire interest in Twilight etc.

This is the second time I have seen this production, and it has developed somewhat, as actors have grown used to characters, inhabiting them more fully. Goodwin is perfectly suited to this type of gothic role, with an imposing stage presence, and spindly fingers, perfectly cast in the long shadows that the lighting provides, while his co-star Andrea Stephenson has also developed. From the elderly widow Florence Stoker, to Irene Adler, another literary allusion to Sherlock Holmes, to spirited performances as a mysterious Indian diety, she believably covered the range.

This was a show that kept the audience interested throughout, with enough shocks and surprises, from sympathetic music and sounds, to keep the audience on their toes. If you like gothic theatre, Don’t Go into the Cellar are seen as leading figures in this type of work, and often tour locally.

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