Pleasance Courtyard Beside (venue)
05 August 2016 (released)
26 August 2016
The annual madness that is the enormously popular Fringe Festival has descended upon Edinburgh throughout August, and as ever, Theatre-News delights in taking their pick of the best – and the worst – of what’s on offer! Well, among the best of this year’s productions is a boisterous take on the old Bram Stoker classic DRACULA, which marks the Edinburgh Fringe debut for Let Them Call It Mischief, a five-piece outfit specialising in fusing much-loved classics with a modern twist.
Let Them Call It Mischief was founded in 2012 by Danny Wainwright, Stephanie Martin, Hilary Puxley, Flo Buckeridge and Tessa Gillett and has since produced four highly successful shows, with DRACULA being their fifth. Despite the relatively compact space the Pleasance Courtyard Beyond venue has to offer, the energetic thespians cleverly made use of the somewhat limiting space by incorporating a minimum of props to maximum effect in their re-telling. All actors are taking on the various characters we know from the story, and then some: Count Dracula, Jonathan Harker, Mina Murray Harker, Lucy Westenra, Dr. John Seward, Arthur Holmwood, Quincey P. Morris, Dr. Van Helsing, Renfield, a locomotive operator, a coach driver, a serving girl at a Transylvanian Inn, the third bride of Dracula, a Whitby dock worker, a maid, passengers on a train…
An old trunk functions both as a seat in the train carriage and also as the seat of the coach which takes Jonathan Harker to Castle Dracula. We’re only at the beginning of our journey and already the jokes come thick and fast, for example when Harker complains about the steam from the train’s engine and the monotonous Transylvanian diet consisting mainly of cabbage with sausage served up in variations thereof. In the castle, the imposing (and I do mean imposing!) Count makes his entrance, much to the laughter of the entire audience. The famous scene in which Dracula’s three brides emerge and try to seduce young Harker is of course also played for laughs! Rather than smoulderingly begging “Come, Jonathan, come…” our three brides (make that two females and one male actor in drag) break into a disco dance routine to the sound of ‘Voulez-vous coucher avec moi’ and it’s hysterical!
Dracula’s arrival in Whitby (the first Romanian immigrant) and his subsequent entry to the Harker household is the perfect playground for endless jokes and gimmicks – here, it’s Lucy’s dilemma of picking the right husband (or picking any at all) which provides a platform for gags galore. Later on, the big twist is that the usually demure Mina begins to rebel-yell against here ‘patronising’ husband Jonathan and Dracula’s advances seem more then just welcome… for one, the Count seems to treat her as his equal. It’s 1897 and as far as Mina is concerned it’s about time women got their right to vote – something that the by now deceased Lucy has tried to tell her all along. It would be unfair to give the finale away (and what a twist!) nor would it be fair to spoil future shows by revealing too much here…
Let’s just say that DRACULA is a brilliant and inspired show which takes you on a side-splittingly funny ride you won’t forget in a hurry! All the cast are superb and are clearly having a ball, though I’m still wondering over Count Dracula’s peculiar walk which resembles more the tiny steps of a Japanese geisha…
The show runs at Edinburgh’s Pleasance Courtyard till Monday 29th August, if you can’t make it then follow Let Them Call It Mischief on their official website:
© Photo by Heather Pasfield