As luck would so have it, my brother being a University of Houston student managed to get ourselves two free tickets to opening night of Dracula, The Original Vampire Play, from which the two of us have just returned. Let me tell you, it’s definitely an experience worth going to Alley’s temporary location at University of Houston’s main campus to watch.
The three-act show, divided by two twelve-minute intermissions, was a delightful take on the old story of Dracula and the search for a cure to sweet, innocent Lucy’s peculiar sickness. The show was campier than expected, deriving laughs from the audience at terribly peculiar moments (there was more than one instance of the poor maid being scared out of her wits that just made the audience laugh instead of feel any fear) though I think it added to the charm.
The sets, derived from Edward Gorey’s work, were absolutely fantastic. Three in all, with huge vaulted ceilings and beautifully monochromatic props that melded into the scene perfectly, truly set the mood for the piece. The amount of detailing in the patterns, I found, was astounding. Costuming did equally well, the color scheme fitting so perfectly that the actors themselves almost seemed to fade away into grey scale.
My, and many audience members’, favorite role was likely Jeremy Webb’s Renfield. I’ve always been fond of the character myself, but the absolute torment, the emotional roller coaster of this performance was astounding. The man is an acrobat as well, I must say, flipping himself around like the madman he was many times throughout the show, often to an explosion of laughter. I did find his odd habit of raising his hands awkwardly to the sky to talk to Dracula as if he were about to break into Thriller a bit of an unfortunate stylistic choice, but otherwise his performance was likely my favorite Renfield I’ve seen in any adaptation.
Dracula plays through November 2nd at University of Houston Theatre, and I highly encourage everyone to get a ticket.