If you’ve never been to Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, “Dracula” is a great opportunity to enjoy a very accessible show and explore a beautiful space. This amazing professional company finally has a larger, more audience friendly space in the Otto M. Budig Theatre on Elm Street. The season is one of the most varied, with something for everyone. “Dracula,” playing now through November 4, and is perfect for the season and new audiences: it is delightfully spooky, a little bit scary, lush, and beautifully done.
There are surprises, be warned. Director Brian Isaac Phillips (Producing Artistic Director) includes all the traditional props (blood, fangs, garlands of garlic) but gleefully adds a few elements sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. Dracula himself, Giles Davis, is mesmerizing, as he floats across the stage in an other-worldly physicality.
The character Renfield (Billy Chace) frames the play in this Steven Dietz adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel. The action is set in 1897 London, and we meet best friends Lucy (Miranda McGee) and Mina (Caitlin McWethy), as they share stories of their suitors. Mina’s fiancé, Jonathan Harker (Crystian Wiltshire), is traveling to Transylvania to conduct business with an unknown wealthy Count (Dracula) who is planning to move to London. One of Lucy’s suitors is Dr. Seward (Kyle Brumley), who runs the lunatic asylum nearby. One of his patients, the agitated Renfield, calls for “his master” to come. Meanwhile, Lucy falls ill with a mysterious illness draining her of blood. Seward asks his mentor, Dr. Van Helsing (Jim Hopkins) to advise on the case.
A few standout performances: Hopkins owns the space as Van Helsing, 110% committed to his beliefs; Chace keeps the audience guessing if he is truly sane or insane; McWethy and McGee delightfully illustrate and expand the boundaries of Victorian morals; and Maggie Lou Rader does the most in her maid cameo.
Costumes (Amanda McGee) and Scenery (Shannon Moore) are lush and rich, perfectly setting the tone. Sound and Video Design (Doug Borntrager) flesh out the story, adding the eerie musical soundtrack, to appropriate gulls, and misty video ambience, also complimented by Justen N. Locke’s Lighting Design.
If you’ve never been to CSC, develop a taste for great theatre with “Dracula,” My non-theatre going companions were entranced and called it “nicely spooky.” For tickets go to www.cincyshakes.com