A one-man Dracula could have been a recipe for disaster, but this is no ordinary one man. Fresh from their scintillating solo Great Expectations, Rabbit Theatre and Dave Mynne have returned with more masterful storytelling, in a captivating show.
Mynne’s performance is excellent: truly absorbing, and seamlessly flitting between his expertly crafted characters. It would be easy to stray into caricatures, but Mynne resists this at every turn, with even his aggressively Dutch Van Helsing steadily becoming more real as the action turned darker. His Dracula is particularly unnerving; still, stoic, and with disconcertingly empty eyes. The result, skillfully uplit, playing with shadows across his face, is utterly chilling, but steers clear of the standard portrayal of Dracula: it’s as real as the living-dead might ever be.
With only lights, a small raised platform, and a table on stage, the result is pure, stripped-back theatre. Rabbit have made something very special, with Mynne expertly directed by Simon Harvey. The staging is exquisitely simple, the extra level helping define the space throughout, whether an upstairs, carriage, or wall to be leapt over. Our story flies along, each moment is refined and calculated, not dragging for a second, and it is impossible not to be enraptured by the world that Harvey and Mynne, with the aid of delightfully simple props, have created.
The first half rockets by, and the interval brought with it an important discussion about a Romeo and Juliet teapot, that caused distraction and giggling in those around me. But the moment the second half was underway, it demanded attention, instantly sweeping us back into the story. Mynne’s ever flexible voicebox provides sound effects across the piece, with act two opening to a chilling wind, which many of the audience contributed to. The half sees Mynne constantly shifting between characters, but he never lets the momentum or narrative suffer, driving the story along. It’s marvellous, captivating storytelling, and perfectly paced.
When the experience is so engrossing, the only moments that took us away from this rich, vivid world were when Mynne was required to undertake technical responsibilities and change the on-stage lighting. The states he shifted to and from were neatly designed, but seeing the process just took us out of the action. If a seamless solution could be found, it would add to the undeniable magic on stage.
It’s a terrific show, charming, funny, beautifully told, and suitably scary. Stoker’s gothic novel has been perfectly pared down by writer Andrew McPherson, sharply directed by Simon Harvey, and Mynne’s performance is exquisite: a masterclass in the telling of tales, it needs to be seen.
Tour dates here: http://rabbittheatre.com/dracula.html