Dracula At The London Library: Influential Gothic Novel Returns To Its Spiritual Home
This is a first: in its 178-year history, the London Library has never staged a play, despite the obvious dramatic potential of this intimate yet grandiose space. A new interpretation of Dracula might have been a risky business with the temptation to flip into camp, self-referential parody.
No need to worry, as the excellent and experienced Creation Theatre take the inspiration of Bram Stoker’s having birthed Dracula in the library (there’s a mental image…) and make of it a strange, new beauty. Staging makes great use of the library without overdoing it — there are no vampire bats flitting among the bookshelves, but a neat bit of business with Bart Lambert’s energetic Jonathan Harker bursting in at the window a la Heathcliff, and Eva Auster’s visuals projected all over the place make imaginative use of the limited space available. Coupled with Matt Eaton’s audio track, it’s creepily effective.
Sophie Greenham gives a cover-the-waterfront performance as Mina/Lucy/Dr Seward, by turns knowing and postmodern, flirtatious, or cut glass Home Counties asperity with an undercurrent of self-doubt. If it occasionally threatens to go vaudeville (Lambert’s Van Helsing nods in the direction of a Carry On Screaming Kenneth Williams), this is momentary, and swift character changes by the two performers banish any jaded traces . Does the venue make the play or the play make the venue? They seem so intimately intertwined that it’s difficult to tell how it would work somewhere else, but tonight in the atmospheric London Library reading room, it was love at first bite.
Dracula, The London Library, St James’s Square, SW1 Y 4LG. Tickets £32 (non-members) until 9 March 2019.
Last Updated 19 February 2019