A review of the classic horror tale at Taproot Theatre, running through Oct. 24.
Elegant and seductive, bloodthirsty and spine-chilling, an aristocratic vampire has been sinking his fangs into popular culture since Bram Stoker conjured him in the classic 1897 horror tale “Dracula.”
Though in the novel he goes from undead to good-and-dead, Dracula is far from gone. The old boy has inspired scores of plays and films. And his descendants rule in such TV series as “True Blood” and “The Vampire Diaries.”
Nathan Jeffrey’s new dramatization of “Dracula” at Taproot Theatre is rooted in Stoker’s book. Set in the Victorian era (a Taproot specialty), its characters recite the letters and diary entries dominating the epistolary novel. However, as director Scott Nolte’s program note states, this version also turns “our attention to those who stand against [Dracula] … whose faith, courage and sacrifice is usually glossed over in our haste to be entertained and scared.”
By Bram Stoker, adapted by Nathan Jeffrey. Through Oct. 24 at Taproot Theatre, 204 N. 85th St., Seattle; $15-$40 (206-781-9707 or taproottheatre.org)
The uninitiated may well appreciate this solid, more faithful than usual take on the novel, which focuses on such intrepid vampire hunters as clever Mina (Melanie Hampton), swoony fang-victim Lucy (Anastasia Higham) and obsessive Dr. Van Helsing (Jeff Berryman), their wooden stakes, garlic and crucifixes at the ready.
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But compared to most adaptations, we get mainly fleeting, shadowy glimpses of the dastardly count. Too bad, because Aaron Lamb is everything you imagine in a Dracula: Sleek. Vulpine. Cunning. Horrific, yet alluring.
Some of us like more sexy and scary. With less of the count, the detailed account of proper Victorians pursuing the Dionysus of monsters can get plodding.
There are some chills, particularly as it dawns on Brit lawyer Jonathan Harker (Daniel Stoltenberg) that his client, and host in a gloomy Transylvanian castle, has some odd nocturnal habits.
Hampton and a possessed Pam Nolte (as a blood-crazed mental patient) stand out. The hokum quotient rises when Berryman’s Van Helsing barks out lines in a heavy Dutch accent. (He’s better in more pensive moments.)
Nolte adroitly as ever keeps many short scenes spinning on a compact, single set, designed by Mark Lund — who also whipped up the ultra-sinister score.