Reviews OWE & Fringe Published 18 November 2011

Dracula: Sex, Sucking and Stardom

Hen & Chickens ⋄ 15th November - 3rd December 2011

More slapstick than sparkle.

Tracey Sinclair

When you sign up to see a show with the inauspicious title of Dracula: Sex, Sucking and Stardom, it’s with the understanding that it probably won’t provide a subversive reworking of vampire mythology.  And so it proves. What you get instead is a fast-paced and often very funny romp with only the very loosest of connections to Bram Stoker’s creation, and for those sick of vampires who sparkle, a welcome antidote to the Breaking Dawn media machine.

From its opening number – a cheeky bastardisation of a Lady Gaga song – it’s clear which level Last Chance Saloon are pitching this show. It isn’t aiming to be sophisticated, and it’s no worse for that. A mix of cheap gags, cheesy puns and deft physical comedy that often borders on slapstick, it tells the story of bumbling clerk Jonathan Harker (co-writer Sam Dunham), who travels to Transylvania and gets caught up in the machinations of the evil Count Dracula. Only, in this case, the nefarious vampire is more concerned with his own quest for stardom than anything more sinister: Jack Faires (who also co-wrote) plays the count with a degree of charm as a Barry Manilow-wannabe, obsessed with getting a part in an Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical and becoming the next John Barrowman (there’s even a nice Torchwood gag in there for the geeks in the audience). Luckily, Harker can call on the aid of the preposterously accented egomaniac Van Helsing (Simon Naylor) to come to his aid…

Although the source material has been fiercely culled for the sake of jokes and running time, some recognizable Stoker moments survive the process.  The original novel has been so often parodied that it’s hard to find an original angle, but turning the fearful Transylvanian tenants into a pair of League of Gentlemen type ‘locals’ works well and the journey to England – with Dracula feasting on a series of interchangeable sailors – is amusing. The fact that Mina is played very obviously by a reluctant bloke in a wig is far funnier than it should be, even if this does eventually lead to a slightly sub-Chuckle Brothers routine that went on far too long for my tastes.

All three actors play their multiple roles with considerable dexterity and an energy and verve that makes the whole exercise hard to resist; so, despite the paper thin story – which is stretched a bit, even over the 70 minute running time – and the occasional whiff of the sixth form revue about some of the set pieces, it’s impossible not to be charmed. The compact space means there’s plenty of scope for audience interaction (don’t sit in the front row if you don’t want to get wet, and for heaven’s sake don’t make the mistake of one unfortunate at the performance I attended, who got up to go to the toilet midway through), and director Mitch Mitchelson keeps the whole thing rattling along at such a frantic pace that the silliness remains endearing. There are some genuinely laugh out loud moments and a couple of very clever touches; the songs are nicely executed and the whole thing is so likeable you’d have to be a curmudgeon of the first order not to leave with at least a small smile on your face.

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Tracey Sinclair

Tracey Sinclair is a freelance editor and writer, a published author and performed playwright. She writes for a number of print and online magazines and most recently has focused on the Dark Dates series of books, including A Vampire in Edinburgh. You can follow her on Twitter under the profoundly misleading name @thriftygal

Dracula: Sex, Sucking and Stardom Show Info


Produced by Last Chance Saloon

Directed by Mitch Mitchelson

Written by Sam Dunham and Jack Faires

Cast includes Sam Dunham, Jack Faires, Simon Naylor

Link http://www.lastchancesaloon.org

Running Time 1 hr 10 mins (no interval)

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