Le Navet Bete open "Dracula: the Bloody Truth" with a scene of such surprising weirdness that they successfully grab the audience by the throat and refuse to let go for over two hours. Van Helsing (Nick Bunt) is there to present the "what really happened" Dracula story, and indeed this highly entertaining show does stick pretty much to the plot of Bram Stoker's novel, rather than any Hammer or Hollywood film version. What it achieves so brilliantly is to combine the gothic horror with excellent comedy in such a way that the comic doesn't divert from the sinister.

With Van Helsing framing the action, virtually everyone else is played by the other three members of the cast. The first conversation between Dracula (Dan Bianchi, the tall good looking one) and Jonathan Harker (Al Dunn) in Transylvania is simultaneously very funny and very strange, their timing so perfect that it uncannily all seems to make sense despite them speaking at cross purposes.

Of course, this being an all-male cast, there is a cross dressing Mina Harker (Matt Freeman) and Lucy Westenra (Al Dunn), both played, to begin with at least, like a pair of simpletons. Matt Freeman's delivery as Mina is hilarious, his girl voice bizarrely endearing and his eye contact with the audience undercutting the fearful events of the story. Al Dunn also gives us a great, and very over the top, account of Renfield, the mad man so strangely affected by Dracula - very peculiar indeed, and hilarious.

Van Helsing desperately tries to keep the show on the road, lecturing the audience to take him more seriously and disciplining the cast, until eventually things literally start to fall apart in a most spectacular way, and we slide sideways into the interval…

The show delights in being apparently simple, yet is a sophisticated concoction of beautifully delivered verbal and slapstick comedy, a pacey script acted with impeccable timing throughout, startling special effects, and a clever set that has bathos literally built in to it. A musical number rounds off an apparently happy-ish ending, but even then, the playful sliding narrative games continue.

Very highly recommended, and perfect for taking your (not too young, 8+) offspring to, or anyone else for that matter.

Cast list:

Nick Bunt - Van Helsing
Al Dunn - Johnathon Harker/Lucy Westernra
Dan Bianchi - Dracula/Dr Seaward
Matt Freeman - Mina Harker/Arthur Holmwood