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LETTERS TO EDITOR
Scottish contemporary playwright Liz Lochead's dramatization of Bram Stoker's Dracula (is there anybody who hasn't done one? now it's Frank Wildhorn as the composer for a Broadway-bound musical previewing in La Jolla) has been described as understanding the bone marrow issues of sex, possession, surrender, and redemptive love, which are the (almost subconscious) subtext of the novel.
The same can certainly be said of the annual Actors Theatre of Louisville presentation, a 1927 adaptation by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston, which has proven quite accomplished at drawing crowds seeking Hallowe'en season thrills and chills.
William McNulty's direction never lets up on the tension and foreboding that hang over the household of Dr. Seward (Mark Sawyer-Dailey), whose pale anemic daughter Lucy (Krista Lally) suffers from nightmares that a strange Dutch professor Van Helsing (Adale O'Brien as a kind of female S. Z. Cuddles Sakall) is called in to cure.
Both Lucy's father and her fiancee Jonathan Harker (Brent Langdon) are clueless as to the cause of Lucy's ailment until Van Helsing helps them figure out that a vampire left those two bite marks on lovely Lucy's neck and that the creepy yet elegant Count Dracula (James Horan), in England as a visitor from Transylvania, is the seductive blood-sucker.
ATL's Dracula is perfect family fare though perhaps a bit too frightening and gory for children under eight. There are enough scary moments to keep even jaded grownups on the edge of their seats. But the deeper meanings in the highly erotic tale come through clearly as well.
When Dr. Seward, aided by Van Helsing, unearths a coffin and drives a wooden stake through the blood-spurting heart of a suddenly awakened female vampire lying in it, strong stomachs and steady nerves are advised.
Discussing Dracula without mentioning Renfield (Brad Light), the fly-eating nut case kept locked up for treatment by Dr. Seward in his sanitorium, would be a gross omission He's another slave to Dracula, and his mad gyrations and gibberish provoke laughter but also sympathy for his tortured mind and his pathetic pleas to save my soul.
With its nervous-making special effects plus lighting and sound effects that enhance the onstage action, ATL's Dracula once again is a spine-tingling winner.
6,500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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