At the oldest surviving music hall in the world, there is a distinctly gothic vibe this month. Though the venue is not designed for dance and has less than ideal sightlines (note: as seating is unreserved, this can be avoided if you arrive early), Mark Bruce’s Dracula transports Wilton’s Music Hall into a world of Victorian horror and carnage.
The story is difficult to comprehend, with too many characters and disjointed scenes to make for a clear narrative. Bruce’s choreography is powerful at times, but lacks cohesion; clever contemporary sweeping movements and aggressive embraces are suddenly replaced by technical and inexpressive ballet sequences. But what is conveyed effectively is the sense of intense drama and passion, occasional humour and a lot of rather gory and visceral bloodsucking.
The set, lighting and costumes, created by Phil Eddolls, Guy Hoare and Dorothee Brodruck, give the production a particular edge. Almost everything is dark except for the bright red drops (or rather splashes) of blood, and the stage backdrop is an eerie metal gateway and railings on which the dead bodies of the Three Vampire Brides are later draped. The array of beautifully crafted black leather masks by Pickled Image, including three horse heads worn by dancers to represent animals pulling along a carriage, are also impressive.
The cast is wonderfully talented; Jonathan Goddard gives a tortured and vivid flavour to the title character and Kristin McGuire makes an appealing Lucy Westenra. Though Dracula is a far from perfect production, it does offer a Halloween thrill.
Dracula is at Wilton’s Music Hall until 2 November. Tickets priced £25 are available here. Londonist received a complimentary ticket to review this performance.
Pictured: Jonathan Goddard and Kirstin McGuire in Dracula / Photo: Colin Hawkins