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BWW Review: DRACULA: THE UNTOLD STORY, Liverpool Playhouse

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Bram Stoker's villain is reignited in this innovative production from tech-geniuses Imitating the Dog

BWW Review: DRACULA: THE UNTOLD STORY, Liverpool Playhouse

BWW Review: DRACULA: THE UNTOLD STORY, Liverpool Playhouse

One would assume that beyond the original novel and the 200+ films made in his honour, there is little more to explore surrounding the lore of Bram Stoker's most iconic villain. Yet in true Imitating the Dog fashion, the innovative theatre company sparks new life into the traditional tale, proving that the story is not quite over yet.

Their reimagining begins on New Year's Eve 1965, where two police officers, down on their luck for being given the night shift, prepare to interview a lone woman who claims to have insider knowledge on a recent brutal murder. However, things take a turn for the bizarre when she reveals herself to be Mina Harker - a woman who, despite being missing since 1901, has not aged a single day. A woman who, despite her involvement in the destruction of Count Dracula 70 years prior, claims he haunts her to this day. A woman who has a story to tell.

Here, Stoker's narrative is lifted from the pages of the 1897 novel and brought to the 21st century through the guise of a live-action graphic novel - making for a watch that feels quite literally page-turning. Imitating the Dog's clever use of comic book-style backdrops and visuals feels both perfectly timely and apt, given the prominence of vampire fiction within the genre and the fact Marvel and DC movies continue to top the box office charts.

But in creating their immersive comic book - they're finding a way to make the text more accessible and more dynamic - it loses a little of the narrative in the process: the story feels somewhat secondary to the visuals. However, clever camera angles do transport characters from scene to scene, and both lighting and sound design, from Andrew Crofts and Rory Howson respectively, are very effectively employed.

The story is carried nicely by an ensemble of three performers, with Riana Duce taking the lead in her portrayal of Bram Stoker's heroine Mina Harker. Throughout her performance, Duce manages to bring gravity to even the most fantastical moment, making for a truly harrowing watch. She's supported nicely by Adela Rajnović and Matt Prendergast, who take on their multiple roles with ease and charm. As a whole, they band together to pull off an expertly crafted, tightly choreographed production that you'll struggle to forget in a hurry.

This is a magical production that has viewers on the edge of their seats. And with Halloween fast approaching, what better way to celebrate than with the world's most famous vampire?

Dracula: The Untold Story is at the Liverpool Playhouse until 16 October, then continues on tour


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From This Author Abbie Grundy