I was shocked when I first walked into Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury. There were less than 150 people waiting to see this comedic take on Dracula. Its no Whitby but I still expected a better turn out for a gothic tale this close to Halloween.
The story is an inventive and original one. Our narrator is Van Helsing who wants to tell his story as he feels Bram Stoker has stolen his story and is not telling the truth. So here is Van Helsing telling us the bloody truth!
The opening of the show is completely muddled and unnecessary. It is a bad magic act where we are introduced to Van Helsing via his head on a platter. Its irrelevant to the story and confusing. Van Helsing tells us that the furniture on the stage is his own and that this is not a stage show but an information seminar. He tells us the story and with the help of three other performers who do think its more of a stage show, they give both stories. In the same vein as league of gentlemen the four men play all the parts including that of the women. They are truly talented actors who can do a range of accents and voices. One moment it’s a Whitby accent, the next a London/Romanian accent. The humour is the distant cousin of The Play That Goes Wrong but sadly it doesn’t deliver to the standard of that show and anyone who has seen The Play That Goes Wrong will feel this is a poorer version. It felt more amateur although that may be intentional. However, for the few in the audience they seemed to really enjoy it and for the two men who were pulled onto the stage (one of them actually acting Van Helsing) they have a night they will never forget.
For me personally, I struggled to laugh at this. Someone throwing up in a briefcase and then another actor grabbing something out of his bag to help someone who had fainted and then covering them in vomit was rather disgusting. I also didn’t find the naked bum in the wardrobe funny (and it wasn’t fake!). It just didn’t float my boat. I have always considered myself a reviewer and not a critic so never actively look for negative things to say, but with this it’s a really hard job. I did debate at the interval if I should stay or go. But I did stay and the second half was much better than the first. I loved the song at the end and I do appreciate the talents of those involved. I just think the story needs to be clearer – tidy up the beginning of the story so the audience is clear of what exactly is going on.
As I said many did enjoy it so if it comes your way, its better than sitting in watching The Apprentice. Go and give it a shot. Id like to hear your own opinions on what you think.