Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a tale that has been captivating audiences for over a century. I’ve seen so many adaptations and offshoots of the classic vampire tale that of course, when Dracula: Mina’s Reckoning came to the stage at the Belgrade, I had to go and see it!
Set in the powerful and remote hills of Scotland, this adaptation, written by Morna Pearson (she/her) and directed by Sally Cookson (she/her), brings the classic horror story to life in a way that is both faithful to the source material and refreshingly modern. Performed almost entirely in Scottish accents, this play is a refreshing twist on the everyday adaptations we have seen before. I’ve read interviews with Morna in anticipation and was so excited to see her vision come to life!
The character of Mina (Danielle Jam, she/her) was written with a punchier edge, portrayed as a feisty woman who transcended the constraints of gender and society from the very start. Seeing the story entirely through Mina’s eyes, we could relate to the frustration and gasp at the overt sexism. It also helped to refresh the source material enough that this play was sooooo much more entertaining than the novel (sorry, Dracula purists!).
With an all woman, non-binary and trans cast, this adaptation is pretty visionary. The whole cast performed superbly with Liz Kettle (she/her) giving a particularly memorable performance as the titular vampire, gliding around with menace and gravitas that chilled the audience. Natalie Arle-Toyne (she/her) captured Van Helsing’s charm and eccentricity perfectly, while the re-imagining of Renfield (Ros Watt, he/they) was really well cast. The writer in the programme confirmed that meeting them highly influenced the character and as a result they were given a lot of (well-deserved) spotlight time.
The supporting cast were all so strong, with all of them playing women in an asylum, along with their other characters within the flashbacks. They were all so excellent, but if I had to pull out a few more I’d like to highlight Maggie Bain (they/them), who gave a standout performance as Dr. John Seward and Catriona Faint (she/her) with her outstanding performance as Jonathan Harker greatly adding to the humorous parts of the play. The whole cast were honestly very impressive, creating a rich and atmospheric world that draws the audience in from the moment the lights went up.
The production is visually stunning with the set design creating a truly Gothic atmosphere with the use of a single apparatus and minimal props. The use of lighting was some of the best I’ve seen in my years of going to the theatre – it was so effective in creating the illusion that the characters were in entirely new locations and it enhanced the spooky atmosphere so well.
This is a superb production of Dracula that is sure to please fans of the novel and newcomers alike. The Scottish adaptation means it’s refreshing and has an entirely different feeling to the original novel and other adaptations. It is a chilling and atmospheric production that will stay with you long after.
All photo credit to Mihaela Bodlovic.