Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton

29/08/2012 - 08/09/2012

Production Details

Carving In Ice and Hamilton Operatic Society are joining forces to bring you William McNulty’s stage play adaptation of the Gothic tale by Bram Stoker… 

Professor Van Helsing and his brave comrades must hunt down and destroy the profoundly evil Count Dracula. But the Count is exceedingly resourceful, employing superhuman strength, psychic powers, and shape-changing to confound and frustrate his antagonists.

Culminating in a wild and shocking confrontation between the King of Vampires and those who would rid the world of him, this adaptation is an action-packed, blood-soaked retelling of Bram Stoker’s classic tale of horror.

The Meteor, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton:
August 29th – September 8th, 7.30pm
Sun September 2nd, 4.00pm, MATINEE  

Ph: 0800 TICKETEK | www.ticketek.co.nz

$29 Adult | $23 Concession/Students/Groups 6+
booking fees apply.

More info:

Count Dracula: Carl Watkins 
Monster: Benny Marama 
Abram van Helsing: Nick Wilkinson 
Robert Renfield: Will Collin 
Dr Thomas Seward: Michael Potts 
Lucy Westphal: Rachel Clarke 
Jonathan Harker: Jeremy Tomkins 
Margaret Sullivan: Mandy Faulkner 
Norbert Briggs: Clive Lamdin 
Mina Grant: Shannon Turnbull
Ensemble: Annie Chen, Hannah Grant, Conor Maxwell, Mary Rinaldi
Child: Vivi Crossland, Miriama Rowell-Tuhakaraina

Lucy (understudy): Mary Rinaldi - Thursday 6th Sept, 7.30pm
Harker (understudy): Conor Maxwell - Friday 7th Sept, 7.30pm 

Production Team 
Artistic Director: Gaye Poole 
Production Managers: Brendan Theodore & Jason Wade 
Production Assistant: Katey Good 
Lighting Design: Bea Mossop 
Lighting Operator: Melissa Clarke 
Sound Design & operation: Luke Jacobs 
Costume Design: Cherie Cooke 
Assistant to Cherie Cooke: Anna Tarr 
Stage Manager: Damian Brown 
Assistant Stage Manager: Alan Jones 
Props: Alan Jones 
Fight Arranging: John Way 
Waltz Choreography: Fiona Murdoch 
Graphic Design: Matthew Quinn  

How madness and evil become the norm

Review by Gail Pittaway 30th Aug 2012

Bram Stoker’s great story, like his character, never seems to die and has survived through many genres and media since its publication in the 1890s.  

This stage version by William McNulty simplifies the cast and plot of the original story but retains much of the language and atmosphere as Dr Seward and his old friend Abram Van Helsing unravel the mystery of the illnesses and disappearances that have plagued Seward’s small circle of friends in England. 

Carving in Ice and Hamilton Operatic Society have officially combined for this production. The characters don’t burst into song; they are in good voice for the howling and cries, while the chorus of three flimsily clad vampire brides dance eerily in the gloom. So the play is a well chosen hybrid for both groups. 

Gaye Poole’s fine direction draws out the scientists’ attempts at rationalisation against ever-mounting evidence that wickedness is afoot. Gradually she shows these extremes coming together until madness and evil become the norm.

Michael Potts and Nick Wilkinson, as Seward and Van Helsing respectively, pursue their deductions with cool dignity. In contrast to more recent movie versions, much is made of Van Helsing’s advanced age in the original and in this script, and while his approach seems staunch and steady, Wilkinson plays him as a man careful to conserve his energy. Potts’ more hysterical character has some strong descriptions and stories to impart, especially in the opening scene, and these are executed with skill and conviction.

The costumes by Cherie Cooke are very impressive, especially the gowns and cloaks, while the glorious operatic curtain functions as both atmospheric backdrop and spooky device. A pity that full blackout can’t be achieved in this theatre as some scene changes would work better. Also the dry ice machine needs a muffler and the use of battery torches seems out of place.

But the wide stage area is well used by three main settings – graveyard, interior of house and medical clinic – with well-chosen or specially made furnishings like Victorian sofas, medical beds and coffins appropriately displayed.

Of course Count Dracula himself is the most important role and Carl Watkins gives a flawless performance, mercifully not too caricatured, but enigmatic; compelling yet also witty and urbane. He is aided by excellent special effects and stagecraft in his trickery but his howl and laugh are also uniquely memorable. 

Mina, the wraith-like vampire who was once Seward’s fiancé, is played with intensity by Shannon Turnbull, particularly so in scenes dancing with her undead Master, and playing a gruesome game of tag with a child on Hampstead Heath.

Mina’s best friend Lucy is played by Rachel Clark, perfectly flicking in and out of stability, at one minute cowering with her stolid fiancé John (a consistent Jeremy Thomkins) and then trying to seduce him in order to drain his jugular.

Mandy Faulkner‘s performance of Margaret Sullivan is particularly spirited and her moments of demonic behaviour genuinely scary. 

Of the other male characters, Will Collins gives a mercurial performance as the insane Renfield that is funny and creepy, providing moments of light relief to the end. Clive Lamdin’s delightfully named Norbert Briggs lumbers along as the classic rude mechanical, also providing some much needed moments of humour, while Benny Marama plays an alter-ego of the Count that is more beast, less man—Nosferato itself perhaps? 

But his beastliness is nearly upstaged by the appearance of a real rat in the cast. The old adage of not acting with animals or children rings true in this case, as the rat is a pleasant distraction and release of tension, while the evil child (Vivi Crossland tonight, alternating with Miriama Rowell-Tuhakaraina) is just outstanding and very chilling.

It’s good to see this classic tale unfolding on stage and both companies uniting forces to deliver a fine show with plenty of action. I hope this will become an annual collaboration.


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