October 28, 2002



reviewed by
Lynn Trenning



















For more about Lynn Trenning, please visit her main page.

(aired on WFAE on October 31)

The sky is dark at 6:00 p.m. The air is crisp, and jack o’ lanterns leer at passers-by. In a tiny theatre on a dead end street, a familiar monster awaits his audience, in Off-Tryon Theatre Company’s presentation of Dracula. Off-Tryon’s Artistic Director Glenn Griffin has written a new adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic tale of horror. In it, he strives to eliminate the superfluous qualities the Romanian Count has accrued during countless remakes. In fact, Griffin claims that his script is truer than any previous movie or stage adaptation ever written.

The play has more success depicting a sense of spookiness than it does actually scaring anyone. Anthony Proctor and Sheila Snow Proctor’s sound design successfully enhances the mood with trilling bats, howling wolves, and the delicate tinkle of a music box. Likewise, John Hartness uses an array of complexion changing lights to reveal how everyone is reacting to losing blood from the neck. The set is a cool ink drawing.

Sheila Snow Proctor also scores with her portrayal of Dracula’s favorite pawn, Renfield. She combines the characteristics of a nervous monkey and a fast-moving crab to create this neurotic mental patient, who himself recognizes that "God knows the devil is too strong for those with weak minds." Stan Peal plays the vampire hunter, Professor Abraham Van Helsing, and I give him credit for never breaking accent, as everyone else who attempted one did.

Bradley Moore plays Dracula. He is dashingly handsome at night, and reminiscent of the Grim Reeper in his daytime attire. I don’t believe for one minute that Jonathan Harker, played by Jimmy Chrismon, would have spent a day alone in the home of this masked creature. But at night, Moore’s Count Dracula has irresistible bedroom eyes that easily overshadow his extended canine teeth.

The play debunks a few myths. Contrary to popular belief, vampires can withstand short exposures to daylight. And, to kill a vampire, you not only have to drive a stake through its heart, but you also must cut the body from the head. The play also displays some inconsistencies. One group of long-haired female vampires acts like a harem of nymphomaniacs. Meanwhile, Dracula’s newest victim quickly deteriorates from a lovely woman to an unattractive Zombie with an unnatural pallor. The set changes are clumsy and performed by cast members who were supposed to be dead.

We are left with the universal truth, and unpleasant reminder that there is evil in this world. And remember, that the guy with the mesmerizing stare who promises you an immortal relationship, might prove to be more of a curse than a blessing.

Lynn Trenning, October 28, 2002

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