Chesapeake Shakespeare’s “Dracula” Review

Chesapeake Shakespeare's

Ben Corcoran, Staff Writer

Last weekend I attended the play Dracula, based on the novel of the same title by Bram Stoker. This version was a moveable play by Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, located in nearby Ellicott City in the Ruins.  Already having read the book, I noticed many differences between the book Dracula and the play itself, but, being a moveable play made it a different, and very enjoyable, experience.

What is a moving play, you ask? Well, the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company presents their plays in the ruins of an old building, with many spaces in which to perform. In one part, the characters are inside their house, and one part of the building looks like a house. But, when they move outside, instead of changing around the set in the one room, they will move the entire play, including the audience, outside the building, adding a completely different setting.

This is a very effective idea for this particular play, seeing as it happens in and out of the property which the characters are. It gives the audience a feeling that they are part of the play, moving around with the actors.

In this version of the Dracula tale, there was a clear (and better) difference between the play and Stoker’s book. For example, the entire beginning of the novel where John Harker visits Count Dracula’s castle, was cut out. Not only was this introductory material cut out, but this production also chose to cut out the purifications of Dracula’s five burial places; rather than being shown, they were described by other characters through their dialogue, but they instead took place off-stage.

By cutting out all the fluff, the acting company kept the action constantly coming, keeping the audience interested and wanting to see more in the next act. It also helped to keep a long, expository-heavy story shorter so the audience would not get tired. But for die-hard Dracula fans, I’ll let you know that the characters were all kept the same, and the plot was identical to the book.

The casting for the play was quite small. The actors  played their roles well, and they seemed to enjoy the surrounding crowd. They were always in character and were very into their roles. Renfield, the insane patient of Dr. Seward, even had me wondering if the actor himself was crazy, too.

Overall, I enjoyed Dracula;  the play was very interesting, and it was always action-packed. If you want to see the play for yourself,unfortunately, the tickets are sold out.  It’s further testimony to the popularity of this run of the show.