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Creation Theatre Company - Dracula

3rd March to 14th April 2018

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Theatre with some bite

Visually and aurally arresting… Creation are back in Blackwell's bookshop

Creation Theatre: Dracula, at Blackwell's bookshop, Oxford, until Saturday, April 14

Unsettling and ultimately scary, Creation Theatre's intelligent and ravishing production of Bram Stoker's Dracula is performed inventively around the philosophy and religion bookshelves in Blackwell's bookshop's Norrington Room.

The drama focuses on a young, good-looking, recently married couple – Jonathan and Mina Harker – who despite being attracted to each other, have not consummated their marriage. Adaptor Kate Kerrow and director Helen Tennison keep the audience guessing until the final scene as to whether they will ever progress from a tentative caress and hurried kiss.

Jonathan (Christopher York) is psychologically traumatised after a recent visit to Romania, where he was tasked with selling an old property to Count Dracula.

We never see the vampire; his occasional words are broadcast over the speakers as Jonathan gazes up, semi-hypnotised. Mina (Sophie Greenham) experiences terrible nightmares and is haunted by visions exacerbated by trying to save the life of her recently-deceased friend Lucy.

In flashbacks projected on two screens located above the bookshelves, we see Lucy (Greenham, doubling), blood-smeared and deathly seductive. Mina is being treated by Dutch expert Dr van Helsing (York, doubling convincingly) who, like the audience, knows that Lucy is the vampire killer of many local children and must be destroyed.

In a thrillingly 'icky' scene, van Helsing carries out a failed blood transfusion between Mina and Lucy (imagined, by her flat clothes, lying on a couch), a snaking apparatus attached to Mina's bare arm, the syringe huge and horrifying. Skeins of tinted, tainted blood mixing in water, its patterns like veins across pale skin, are displayed on the screens, a bodily infection as modern art display.

Van Helsing's theories about vampires infect the Harkers as surely as the count's puncture marks. Wolves howl in the darkness. Letters are projected with a destructive beauty across the entire bookshop, their words scattered and jumbled like the infected blood under the microscope. Matt Eaton's score, part bombastic and filmic, otherwise full of scratchy sound effects, is excellent.

Superbly acted and visually and aurally arresting, Creation's production has real bite. Go.