Taking you on a journey across Europe from the sinister Transylvanian mountains to the awkwardly charming seaside town of Whitby and into the world of the supernatural, educating us all on the perils of dealing with vampires.

Exeter based Le Navet Bete (Dick Tracy, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) are committed to creating hilarious, physical and totally accessible comedy theatre using creative and engaging storytelling. This brand new comedy theatre show will take audiences on a journey across Europe from the dark and sinister Transylvanian mountains to the awkwardly charming seaside town of Whitby.

Dracula: The Bloody Truth promises to have the vampires back in the ground and leave audiences flying high.

It might seem an odd time of year to be putting on a show about vampires, but judging from the sold-out run of Dracula: The Bloody Truth in the Hippodrome’s Patrick Centre, there’s certainly an appetite for it.

Introduced by an increasingly irate Professor Van Helsing, the show seeks to set the record straight on a true story he alleges has been twisted out of shape by Bram Stoker. Though a group of actors might be representing the events on stage, he insists that this “authentic” account is not theatre (which he despises). As his audience, we’re here to be educated, not entertained.

But inevitably, like an undead monster rising from the grave, Van Helsing’s disinterest in stagecraft and theatrical conventions comes back to haunt him, as just about everything that can go wrong, does. The little cast isn’t quite enough to cover all the parts (or at least not with the required changeover speed), sound and lighting cues are way off, electrics explode, the set falls to pieces, and Van Helsing himself ends up temporarily out for the count. Added together with a healthy does of audience participation, it’s like a Christmas panto crossed with The Play That Goes Wrong.

Slapstick silliness specialists Le Navet Bete are comprised of five blokes – four of whom play all the parts in Dracula. All are fine physical comedians, from Nick Bunt’s hopping mad Van Helsing to Al Dunn’s rather more cheerfully crazy, animal-munching asylum inmate Renfield. Funniest of all is Matt Freeman’s Mina Harker – not so much the passive, proper lady of Stoker’s story as a minx who takes little persuading to ditch her traumatised husband for cocktails with a caped stranger (Dan Bianchi). It says something when the bloodsucking, power-crazed count seems like the sanest of the lot of them.

Thoroughly batty, this is Dracula all right, but as you’ve never seen it before. 

***

Reviewed by Heather Kincaid


3 Stars on Wed, 16 Aug 2017

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