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Jonathan Harker and Dracula

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His frame is slight and his shoulders slender, but Gerard McCarthy bears almost the entire weight of this dramatic revisiting of Bram Stoker’s gothic masterpiece with impressive ease and fine articulation. The word ‘almost’ is used advisedly because, while Michael Poynor’s dense adaptation is shaped as a solo show, there is another player in the frame: Mark Dougherty’s sweeping, brilliantly cinematic soundscape.

Poynor, McCarthy and Dougherty have collaborated as a close-knit unit on the task of amalgamating and coalescing five intense, interlocking storylines. The narrative spine is rooted in the encounter of Jonathan Harker and Dracula in faraway Transylvania and develops via the journals of Harker’s wife Mina, her friend Lucy Westenra, the enslaved lunatic Renfield and vampire-hunter Van Helsing’s pursuit of the blood-obsessed Count. Harker is a young solicitor, sent to a castle in the Carpathian Mountains to act as an agent for a wealthy client wishing to buy a property in England. But hospitality soon turns to incarceration, as, against a welter of projected images of Victorian illustrations, gilded interiors and terrifying animal and human presences, Harker finds himself plunged into an impenetrable world ruled by pure evil.

McCarthy slips smoothly between no less than 16 assorted roles, employing a vast battery of accents and characterisations. There may be a few heavy-handed storytelling glitches and the Brides of Dracula – Kym Marsh, Rachel Tucker and Jayne Wisener, appearing on screen – may register as more goofy than gruesome, but one can only applaud the collective imagination and individual performance skills in delivering this entertaining piece of theatre.

  • Theatre at the Mill, Newtownabbey
  • September 18-27, PN September 23. touring until November 1
  • Author/director: Michael Poynor
  • Music: Mark Dougherty
  • Design: Michael Poynor set and lighting
  • Technical: Sheridan Pennell, John Stuart film sequences, Chris Madden, Joseph Armour visual scenes and effects, James Kennedy, Anthony Mcdonald, Craig Downes sound effects
  • Cast: Gerard McCarthy
  • Producers: Ulster Theatre Company, Theatre at the Mill
  • Running time: 2hrs

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The Stage
The Stage is a British weekly newspaper and website covering the entertainment industry, and particularly theatre. It was founded in 1880. It contains news, reviews, opinion, features, and recruitment advertising.