BWW Previews: DRACULA: THE BLOODY TRUTH at Theatre Royal Nelson
Outraged by the release of the novel 'Dracula' just three years ago in 1897, Professor Abraham van Helsing presents a 'public information seminar' to warn us about dangers of the notorious vampire and how to defeat him.
This hilarious parody of vampire movie clichés based on Bram Stoker's gothic horror story is whimsical comedy at its best. Crammed full of sensational slapstick, frantic costume changes and airborne props, the impressive cast of just four, take on the challenge of 34 characters with hilarious results.
David van der Velden (One Man Two Guvnors) took on the central role of Van Helsing, who began as the theatre-hating narrator of the story until his character finally appeared in the tale - the story being that the events surrounding Dracula really happened, and that Bram Stoker had stolen Van Helsing's research notes for his book. Dave is a master of physical theatre and gags as he guides us on this fast-paced, farcical romp across Europe from the dark and sinister Transylvanian mountains to the awkwardly charming seaside town of Whitby.
Jenny Holden and Amanda Crehan, who showed their serious acting chops playing multiple roles of both genders, shone as the ditzy Mina and Lucy. The chemistry between the two was electric, with Amanda's rendition of Mina giving shades of Bette Davis in 'What ever happened to Baby Jane?'.
Newcomer Oscar Macdonald (Dracula, Dr Seward, and many others) was dynamic and brought real energy to all of his characters.
Did everything in the show go as it should have done? Full of deliberately mad costumes, collapsing scenery, faulty props, delayed sound effects and botched character changes ... who knows and who cares, the script is so well written and performed that if anything did go wrong it was made into the show as if it was meant to be there.
So suspend your disbelief and lose yourself in this riotous comedy enjoying a rollercoaster of traditional farce, pantomime, nursery rhyme, dance hall, and accident-prone Frank Spencer-style mishap.
Originally performed by physical-comedy theatre company Le Navet Bete on a UK tour in 2017, Director Hugh Neill needs to be commended for taking on this behemoth of a challenge and rising to the occasion to bring the New Zealand premiere of Dracula: The Bloody Truth to Nelson.
Dracula: The Bloody Truth is at the Theatre Royal Nelson nightly at 7.30pm from Wednesday 12 to Saturday 15 June. Bookings available from theatreroyalnelson.co.nz.