Mark Bruce Company: Dracula
Time Out says
Mark Bruce’s ‘Dracula’ is a show that gently sinks its teeth into you. It might take a little convincing, a touch of foreplay, but once you've been bitten there's no going back.
The Bristol choreographer’s dance theatre version of Bram Stoker’s bloodsucking book might just be the strongest thing he's made. Bruce manages to conjure a world of gothic gloom from boldly minimal staging and a lot of dry ice – although having the dilapidated glamour of Wilton’s as his backdrop might be an unfair advantage.
At the centre is Jonathan Goddard, the brilliant ex-Rambert dancer in his first real character role, playing the vampire count in a multitude of guises: suave, troubled, dangerous; shifting from pathetic monster to grim vaudevillian as he makes his way from Transylvania to England in search of blood. The supporting vamps relish their roles as deathly brides, women delivered from straightjacketed Victorian primness to hungry sexuality.
Dance is used sparingly and effectively, to illustrate character or intensify action, and Bruce lets other elements of the production take some of the weight of storytelling. There’s a well-chosen soundtrack (Mozart, Ligeti, Schnittke and more) and best of all are the masks, seductively sinister leather animal heads (made by Bristol puppet company Pickled Image) which transform vampires into wolves, or turn dancers into galloping goth horses.
There are a couple of bum notes – like the series of letters delivered by a mildly comical dove from above – and the show dances to a bit of a limp death rather than a blood-curdling finish, but it’s entertaining, atmospheric and, thankfully, a long way from ‘Twilight’ territory. Book for Halloween.
By Lyndsey Winship