Dracula | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Dracula, Defiant Theatre, at the Vittum Theater. Director Richard Ragsdale gets the tone exactly right in this adaptation by Steven Dietz of Bram Stoker's famous novel. The actors are earnest, even melodramatic--but the production winks, thanks to the timing of scenes and the occasional special effect: a cartoon moon, a giant wolf-head puppet with glowing eyes. The feel is similar to a really good B movie or perhaps a Coen brothers film, both slightly campy and slightly suspenseful.

In 1897 an English solicitor (Justin Fletcher) sets sail to help a new client in Transylvania--Count Dracula (Hunter Stiebel). The solicitor leaves behind his beloved Mina (Rebecca Spence) and her dramatic best friend (Erin Neal), who's fending off three suitors, including the stalwart head of a lunatic asylum (James Bould). Soon Dracula is running amok in England and turning people into vampires, leaving plenty of gore in his wake. The three suitors join forces to stop him, leaving the vulnerable, good-hearted women in his path.

Adaptations are difficult, and at two and a half hours this one runs long. But it's the perfect spooky--not scary--complement to the Halloween season.

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