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The Vampire is back.

Reviewed by Ewart Shaw, Wednesday 17th August 2022.

Sporadic Productions has been plagued with so many delays in presenting Dracula: The Last Voyage of the Demeter, and have finally dropped anchor at the Star Theatres.

Dracula reached England by ship. That ship, the Demeter, her captain and crew, and the supercargo, are the subject of a one-act play by Melbourne writer, Sean Carney. From the start, Captain Atkins, played by Paul Messenger, knows he has a vampire in the hold, and that knowledge seems to reinforce his own insecurities. Atkins is the law onboard the Demeter and he shoots anyone who disobeys him, including his handy first mate, Nichols, played by Leighton James. There's another killer on board, and it is, of course, the last person you'd expect.

Hugh O'Connor is a most effective Dracula. He's not the emaciated fanged creature of the movies. He's physically sturdy, consistently accented, and dominates the action with quiet intensity. He plays sophisticated games with the captain from inside his cage. His incarnation of the title character is the drawcard for this production.

Director, David Dyte, and most of the cast, sharpened their teeth, sorry, cut their teeth, working in the Bakehouse with the Unseen Theatre Company. Indeed, that familiar space would have been better than the cramped stage of the smaller venue at Star Theatres. The narrative itself is a little cramped.

The ship hails from Rumania, but the captain's wife, Jessica, played by Kahlia Tutty, is, maybe, from Whitby, having fled after committing a murder, not realising that she'd been trailed by the detective, Gibson, played by Mike Shaw. Tutty looks spectacular in black and has the gift of stillness. Alycia Rabig, blonde ringlets and all, looks doll-like and vulnerable as the captain's daughter, Elizabeth. Danny Sag is suitably agitated as the man, Hopkins, who has chartered the Demeter to take his cargo to London.

I'm not giving much away by revealing that the entire cast, other than the captain and, of course, Dracula, end up dead, either shot or strangled. The sudden outbreak of graphic violence is well managed. No-one laughed.

It's a one-act play but, for a moment, I thought I might have left the theatre at an interval and not a curtain. Certainly, the audience was left a little bewildered at the end and waited a while before the applause, which was, itself, a little uncertain.

Sean Carney is not the only writer to take on an adaptation of The Captain's Log, a chapter in Bram Stoker's immortal Dracula. There's an American supernatural horror movie on the blocks.


From This Author - Barry Lenny

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