Monday, August 11, 2008

Honourable Mentions: The Bride of Dracula

I mentioned this earlier in the year and now have the DVD. As regular readers will know, the fact that this is available to buy would mean I would normally write a formal review. I thought long and hard about this.

Part of my reticence was due to a lack of expertise in respect of dance generally and belly dance specifically. On the other hand I have reviewed dance related material before, see Dracula: Pages from a Virgins Diary. However, that was a film with dance adapted into it. This is a DVD of a stage show. Also pertinent was the fact that the Royal Winnipeg Ballet are a professional dance troupe, whilst the JAG Dance Academy are a dance school and many of the cast of this were enthusiastic amateurs.

In the end I decided to opt for the honourable mention.

As I said, this is a stage show, actually recorded at the Hazlitt Theatre (Maidstone, UK) and is an original, and loose, adaptation of Dracula that was executively directed by John O’Mahoney and has Steve Langley and Angela Wooi listed as artistic directors and choreographers. The dance style used is belly dance.

The setting of the tale is Transylvania and Jonathon Harker (Billy Warren) and Yasmina (Sarah Williamson) are to be married. At the village, for the wedding, are Yasmina’s friend Lucy (Charlotte Foston) and her uncle Van Helsing (Dermott Bassett).

It is traditional that Jonathon may not see Yasmina prior to the wedding and so Van Helsing sends him off with a hip flask of Dutch courage, whilst Yasmina and Lucy practice the traditional dance that she must perform for Jonathon. Jonathon becomes inebriated and is watching the village maidens when a scream sounds out.

He finds himself surrounded by four strange women, unbeknown to him the Brides of Dracula. They are credited as Geisha Bride (Angela Wooi), Victorian Bride (Ann Hal), Moulin Rouge Bride (Rebecca Campion) and Biker Bride (Charlotte Burton). They quickly have Jonathon ensorcelled.

Their master, Dracula (Steve Langley), appears - at this point masked - and is going to take the young man for himself. He opens Jonathon’s shirt and reveals the crucifix he wears. It is enough to break the spell that the brides have cast and allow him to escape.

Harker checks on Yasmina but is driven away by Lucy. Instead he goes to speak to Van Helsing. Meanwhile the brides cast their spell over the village girls and this allows Dracula opportunity to seduce Yasmina, bite her and take her away – without the villagers realising.

Harker explains his encounter and Van Helsing realises that vampires are abroad. Dracula has awoken from his slumber and will take a new bride to consolidate his power. Lucy realises that Yasmina has disappeared but when she suggests vampires to Van Helsing he is dismissive of the notion – presumably to try and protect the girl.

Lucy is headstrong, however, and searches for Yasmina – getting herself abducted in the process. Van Helsing explains to Jonathon that they have a slim hope. Dracula must bite a bride three times in order to turn her and there must be a sufficient lapse in time between each bite or the victim would simply die.

Van Helsing and Harker will have to attempt a daring raid on Dracula’s lair but both Yasmina and Lucy have been bitten at least once each and their transformation has begun.

The show lasts approximately two hours and much of the show is, obviously dance. Not being an expert I found myself strangely fascinated by the dance style and the energy and passion it contains. I found the juxtaposition between the distinctly Eastern dance style and the Western Gothic story worked remarkably well. The costuming was often very eastern and yet seemed to work its best with the more gothic element- in other words the vampires.

The music was superb. The eastern styled music worked really well, lending an energy to the performance. However, again, it was with the vampires that things were at their best. The musical style shifted, more industrial and techno tones were built into the score – I heard some Enigma at one point, which was nice in itself.

This is not going to be for everyone, certainly it is among the more distinctive, one might say unusual, end of the vampire genre and yet I think it is one of those things that a genre fan is going to want for their collection. The genre material seemed to be treated with respect by the writer (Steve Langley) and performers. Even more unusual changes – altering Mina to Yasmina as a name – are understandable given the fusion that was being created.

At the time of the mention there is no imdb page.


Anonymous said...

Reading your review I must to say this sounds interesting. Only dance version I have seen is Dracula - pages from virgin´s diary and it worked.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I enjoyed it, but it won't be to everyone's taste