Thursday, 15 October 2009


12/9/09, West Yorkshire Playhouse

Northern Ballet Theatre's version of the old favourite.

Very conventional, recorded music, Dracula in a great black cloak, girls in short Victorian dresses, pretty costumes, traditional choreography much of the time, but a lot of impressive and inventive and evidently "modern" lifts.

Dracula's coffin rose through the front of the stage at the start, and he emerged to walk through the curtains away from us stark naked but for a thong, leading to hopes that Lucy might likewise emerge from her coffin starkers (no such luck). But there was a certain amount of simulated sex in lurid red light between Dracula and Lucy and D and Mina. There was also an impressive homo-erotic duet between D and Jonathan at the start, but since J didn't turn into a vampire I imagine they'd can't have gone all the way.

My knowledge of the Dracula story is shaky, and since we passed on the souvenir programme at £5 we had to glean what we could from a cast list which spelt out the characters' relationships. From this it appeared that the virginal Mina's friend Lucy was tempted into a night of passion with D during a night-time walk in a red dress in the graveyard (silly girl), lost all her inhibitions and behaved abominably at her engagement party, which was also the main chance for the corpse (ha!) de ballet to go through their paces; her fiance laboured under the unlikely moniker of Lord Arthur Godalming and was danced by a Japanese in a silly moustache.

Lucy was then put to bed while the medical men busied themselves about her, and where she was later visited by D and subsequently expired.

D then turned his attention to Lucy, with whom he danced an erotic duet ending up on another bed stage left, to the accompaniment of a Classic FM favourite I can't name, involving a very slow piano and solo violin, both incredibly close-miked.

It was camp and kitsch and done without any irony, but on its own terms it was effective.

There was a sub-plot I didn't entirely follow involving a lunatic in a cage who was winched down from the flies.

We agreed it would have been better still with live music, though the range of FX would have been much reduced in that case.

Semi-naturalistic scenery (like beds) was wheeled on and off from time to time, which was cumbersome.

The audience were an entertaining mix of the WYP's usual stolid burghers, plus gay balletomanes... and Dracula fans in gothic black (why are all goths fat?).

W didn't think he'd enjoy it but clearly did, especially the shorter second act, which was gratifyingly full of sex and violence.

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