Dracula review – The London Library

Site specific and immersive theatre is all the fashion these days, but Oxford’s Creation Theatre do it very well indeed. Using their surrounds and drawing from them, there’s no sense of gimmickry about things. They’re currently turning their hand to Dracula, transporting it to the 1950s in the London Library, which was where Bram Stoker did some of his research, the same original books still on the shelves.

Bart Lambert plays Jonathan Harker and Sophie Greenham plays Mina, with the duo also taking on other roles and flitting between characters including Dr Seward, Professor Van Helsing and Renfield. It’s a tricky thing to pull off when the novel has so many narrators, and it did feel a bit disjointed at times. Having not read the book, I found it hard to follow the story, although I guess that most people paying for the privilege of seeing the first play staged in the London Library’s 178 year history are familiar with the novel.

Creation Theatre, Oxford’s largest producing theatre, (read an interview with Lucy Askew, the head of and creative producer at Creation Theatre), has for the last 22 years established a growing reputation for their innovative theatrical adaptations of famous books with performances taking place in dramatic and unexpected locations. Kate Kerrow wrote this play, which has been directed by Helen Tennison. Design by Ryan Dawson Laight was great, as usual, and Eva Auster’s visuals  and Matt Eaton’s audio track conveying the sense of looming dread.

Surprisingly, whilst humour would never be the right word to describe what we see on stage, there are a few smiles raised. There’s no vampires, but quite a lot of sex. Mostly, however, it’s dark, and macabre and sinister – exactly what you want from Stoker’s story. I just wish it had been a bit more comprehensible.

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