Leeds Playhouse – until 9 October 2021
Reviewed by Sal E Marino
Whenever an ‘Imitating the Dog’ production is announced you know it’s going to be: innovative, spectacular, experimental and totally unpredictable so their latest production, Dracula: The Untold Story, is no exception – in fact it’s all the above and then some. Unlike Bram Stoker’s original novel, Dracula: The Untold Story, is set in 1965, at a London police station on New Year’s Eve and this is where we first meet Mina Harker (the wife of the tragic diarist Jonathan Harker). On entering the station Mina bizarrely confesses to a most brutal, shocking and bloody murder but then what starts to unfold is a whole catalogue of homicides – committed by her – but what she claims were carried out to prevent evil forces creating an apocalyptic event and that she killed to “make a difference” for the good of mankind.
If like me you consider yourself somewhat of an expert on the original story of Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, then you’ll be both fascinated and intrigued by this curveball of a tale that takes you on a deep journey of the immortal and devilish underbelly of Gothic horror. The set of Dracula: The Untold Story is a fusion of unique and amazing multi-media, first-rate acting and high–tech visuals. All mediums fully engage the audience and give a highly-fulfilling sensory and emotional experience during every single second of the performance! What could have been pure chaos due to all the technical elements turn out to be a master-class in how to deliver a show that has perfect timing and the slickest camera / ‘set’ projection work I’ve ever seen! How it was done so smoothly is still a puzzle to me but obviously down to such a multi- talented team.
Another extraordinary part of the play is watching the actors get into certain positions to capture a scene on the large screen and this in itself is enthralling but alongside the bewitching story; the whole play is totally absorbing. Mina’s quest to eradicate people she ‘sensed’ (due to her new and super-vampiric qualities) were going to commit the most heinous crimes known to man (or beast) was spellbinding and took us back into a gallery of historical human monsters. Riana Duce (Mina Harker), Matt Prendergast (multiple characters) and Adela Rajnovic (multi characters) were outstanding in all of their acting roles and had pin-sharp choreography, timing and delivery in each and every scene. Their energy never faltered for a single moment and this is huge achievement given all of the roles and technical parts they had to incorporate into the play.
I can’t think of a better way to embrace the forthcoming dark nights and Halloween season by going to see this truly dynamic and hypnotic gothic horror show and I guarantee that you’ll be highly-entertained and totally mesmerized throughout!